Do you feel satisfied with how your elected officials are representing you? For most Jersey residents, the answer to that question is no.

Peter Woolley, the Director of the FDU PublicMind Poll, says the question of whether the Legislature is really representative of New Jersey depends on how you define representative – “so if you’re looking at how people look, for example, it’s not so representative…the Legislature always tends to lag behind the population in terms of some basic demographics – so for example the Legislature is always more male than the rest of population -it’s whiter than the rest of the population – and it’s certainly much older than much of the population.”

He says representation is lacking in many other ways, “for example Legislators have great job security- it’s really hard to get an incumbent moved on, and so most us don’t have that kind of job security…and most Legislators do business with the state in their private lives, most of us don’t…also a lot of legislators are also lawyers- and that’s not true of much of the rest of the population.”

Woolley adds “Legislators tend to be very representative on issues that don’t really require much work – or certainly don’t conflict with their personal interests – we call that posturing…they find a political issue that’s easy – and you push that – even though it doesn’t cause a big uproar – like banning teenage sun-tanning in spas for example- that was an actual bill that was up in the lame duck legislature -but real reform, such as preventing people from holding multiple jobs or collecting multiple pensions from the state while still working is a much more important issue to a lot of taxpayers and that’s an issue that quickly gets bogged down or torpedoed.”

He points out “ultimately what we want when it comes to representation is the ability to be able to hold people’s feet to the electoral fire and give them the boot if they don’t represent us -that doesn’t really happen very much in New Jersey or elsewhere, just because of the way the parties- or the Legislators themselves tend to draw their districts.”