CHICAGO — After the Democratic-controlled legislature drew state boundaries to favor their party, now there’s attention on Chicago’s mapmaking process and the push to make it more fair.
When U.S. Census data comes out this fall, the Chicago City Council will redraw the 50 wards.
State law requires 41 aldermen to approve the map. To get there, they cut backroom deals and settle old scores.
“At the last moments, they drew me out,” Fioretti said. “If you remember the day after the ward maps were approved you saw in the papers many of the aldermen in the back room were looking up say ‘hmm,’ because they didn’t know where their ward boundaries were going to be.”
Fioretti’s 2nd Ward boundaries were changed drastically, with even his home being excluded.
“If you want the people to choose the voters you make sure that the wards are compact continuous and they show communities of interest,” Fioretti said.
Former Alderman Dick Simpson said historically the process of redrawing the wards has favored the mayor and powerful aldermen.
“Back in the day when I was alderman, Tom Keane, who was head of the Finance Committee and floor leader for Mayor Daley, drew the map in the backroom. Later, Alderman Burke and his group drew the map in the backroom,” Simpson said. “It has never been publicly drawn.”
City Hall observes expect the Black and Latino caucuses to battle over retaining wards in the communities they represent. Chicago’s Latino population has been growing while the African American population has been declining.
“Latinos are now very significantly underrepresented in the City Council,” Simpson said.
Change Illinois and a coalition of groups have formed a 13-member redistricting commission that they hope will force Aldermen to hand over power over the maps.
“Ending ward gerrymandering and giving resident their power and voices is critical to this process,” Change Illinois’ Chaundra Van Dyk said.
If 10 aldermen support an independent map, it would trigger a referendum to allow voters to decide what happens.
“The mayor is certainly aware of this,” Change Illinois’ Executive Director Madeleine Doubek said. “We’ve been open and transparent about it.”
So far, aldermen have rejected the call for a process led by the public.
Mayor Lightfoot campaigned on an independent commission, but now she said aldermen should be involved with the process. So far, there’s no sign that the aldermen will go along with independent public redrawing of the wards.