City Council discusses new ward map, Bears potential move to Arlington Heights

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Chicago’s City Council met on Wednesday, with members debating on a new ward map and the Chicago Bears’ potential move to Arlington Heights.

The deadline to draw up a new ward map is December 1, with the council’s Latino Caucus demanding more representation in the city’s legislative body.

With Chicago’s Latino population continuing to grow, the caucus is demanding 15 seats. The city’s Black Caucus said it’s not willing to lose any aldermen.

Alderman Gilbert Villegas said the Latino Caucus is holding firm and will not leave another seat on the table.

“Our colleagues are locked in. We are demanding 15 seats. We’ve had an increase in the city’s population for a second decade in a row and we’re not going to leave another seat on the table,” Villegas said.

The caucus is building support for a reform map that would reduce the number of wards with a majority of Black voters by two, and add two wards with a majority of Latino voters. 

“The Chicago Coalition Map corrects the lingering disparity that exists for at least the last 10 years between Chicago’s Latino population and its representation in City Council,” said Evette Trevino, with the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.

The city’s ward map continues to be drafted behind closed doors, with calls for the map to also include a majority-Asian ward for the first time in the city’s history.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has declined to weigh in on the map. She says she hopes the public gets time to see the final proposal before the Council votes. But the clock is ticking.

“There’s got to be a process for public engagement,” Lightfoot said. “The public needs to see any map before it’s voted on by the City Council.”

Forty-one of the 50 aldermen must agree on a map. If they don’t, the city would be forced to hold a special election with voters choosing from competing maps. 

“Obviously, everybody’s mindful of that upcoming deadline and we’ll see what map if any emerges at point,” Lightfoot said.

Another issue on the table is the Chicago Bears’ plans to move to Arlington Heights. Alderman George Cardenas showed concerns over what taxpayers will be responsible for.

“This organization wants us to build them a new stadium when we haven’t finished paying the other one yet, to a tune of a billion-something dollars. For what? So we can increase more wealth? And we get stuck with the tab, so I think it’s a non-starter for taxpayers and for constituents. I love the Bears, I think a lot of us love the Bears, all I’m saying is why don’t we figure out a way to own our own team,” Cardenas said.

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