December 9, 2020 | Number of The Day
NJ county commissioner posts filled by women in 2020

Any ground women gain in New Jersey’s political infrastructure — specifically, as mayors, county commissioners and on local councils — is a step toward more equitable and more diverse government.  But as this year’s report card from the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) shows, progress is measured in inches.

For example, women gained a single commissionership since last year’s report card and currently hold 45 positions, beating the 2019 record of 44 to make up 33% of 135 county commissioners. The number of women serving in mayor’s offices increased by 8 to 94, just edging out the previous record of 90, set in 2011.

“It’s an exciting year for women and politics, with the election of the first woman vice president, and women once again setting new records as candidates and officeholders,” said CAWP Associate Director Jean Sinzdak, “but the progress here in New Jersey has been glacially slow.”

Women now make up just 17% of the 565 New Jersey mayors. On local councils, women gained 68 seats, currently holding 905 of 3,103 council seats; this is a two percentage-point increase over 2019. Women now make up 29% of local council members.

Considered from the county level, Mercer and Union lead New Jersey in an overall ranking of women’s political representation. Cumberland County is in last place.

The CAWP is part of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.