With only weeks to go before the deadline to approve boundaries that will determine the political future of the City Council’s members and Chicagoans’ representation for the next decade, an independent group unveiled what it says is its final draft of a 50-ward map.
Now comes the tall task of persuading at least 10 aldermen to back it so it can go up for vote by city residents.
A Dec. 1 deadline looms for the City Council to adopt new maps. Talks have traditionally revolved around how many wards will be drawn to be majority Black and Latino. Negotiations in 2010 ended with 13 majority Latino wards and 18 Black wards. But as the Black population share in Chicago has declined and the Latino proportion has climbed, members of the City Council’s Latino Caucus are agitating for greater representation.
No plans have emerged yet from the map room where aldermen have been meeting to tweak district lines for several weeks. Aldermen have been mostly occupied with 2021 budget hearings.
The latest map proposed by the Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission—an independent group led by good-government organization Change Illinois—is the only one being publicly floated so far. It has 15 majority-Black wards and 14 majority Latino. There are 13 majority-white wards, and for the first time, a majority-Asian ward. The other seven wards have no racial majority, but two of those have a Latino plurality.
Mike Strode, one of the independent group’s commissioners, said the map keeps the city’s neighborhoods contained within as few wards as possible and is free of “crazy carved up” and “lobster” wards like the city’s 2nd Ward.
“Now we all begin the work of asking at least 10 of the 50 members of the Chicago City Council to support The People’s Map,” commission member Apriel Campbell said in a press release this morning. “If 10 council members support The People’s Map, the people of Chicago will get to vote next year from among any and all maps that win the support of 10 alders. Shouldn’t the people have that chance to choose and shape their futures?”
But it sets up a tough political ask—getting aldermen to give up the power to protect their incumbency. The commission’s current map pits several South Side aldermen against each other, and the creation of the Asian ward, for example, would significantly alter the boundaries of the ward the storied Daley clan has called home. But the group is still confident it can win over 10 others. If so, their map could go to voters.
“Many are on the record saying they support the idea in theory,” commissioner Chris Kanich said Wednesday. That includes aldermen like Andre Vasquez, 40th, and Brian Hopkins, 2nd, who initially called for creation of an independent commission to draw maps.
Other potential allies to their cause might include Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd; Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th; and Ald. Mike Rodriguez, 22nd, Kanich said.