Voting Block: New Jersey Neighbors Dare to Talk Politics

WNYC | June 19, 2017 | Politics
Conversations across the political divide are increasingly difficult, which makes them all-the-more essential

Credit: Richard Yeh/WNYC News
hillside terrace
For the first time in 12 years, New Jerseyans will choose a governor this fall without an incumbent in the race. It’s a critical moment for the future of the state, and it comes at a time when conversations across the political divide are increasingly difficult. That’s why WNYC is working with other news organizations in New Jersey to explore the gubernatorial election — and political divisions — through the lens of individual neighborhoods. We’re calling it Voting Block, and we’ve chosen the most northerly block of Hillside Terrace, which starts in South Orange and ends in West Orange. 

On the southern end, the houses are about 100 years old, mostly two-story Craftsman style, with front porches and tall trees. The block then changes abruptly, and the last third of the homes are all split-level ranches that come to an end on a cul-de-sac. 

The neighborhood is remarkably diverse. There are homes under foreclosure and homes where wealthy professionals live. It’s multiracial and multiethnic, and the politics span from the far left to the far right. The South Orange end of the block is represented by one of the most progressive Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, Donald Payne; the West Orange end of the block is represented by Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen
Over the course of the next five months, we’ll be meeting the neighbors of Hillside Terrace, finding out what they think of the governor’s race, and bringing them together to talk politics. 

This story is part of the Voting Block series and was produced in collaboration with the Center for Cooperative Media, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and members of the NJ News Commons. To read all the stories in this series, visit