Latino, Black City Council leaders tangle over ward maps ahead of looming deadline

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Last week, the Latino Caucus laid down a marker demanding 15 wards ahead of the looming deadline. To get there, they proposed that Black Caucus give up two seats. On Monday, the Black Caucus offered to give up one seat.

City Council has until December 1 to redraw ward boundaries. With that in mind, the Black Caucus released its plan on Monday.

“What we have drawn is something that is representative of the City of Chicago and the Black community in its entirety,” Ald. Jason Ervin said.

Although the caucus did not draw specific ward lines, they’re pushing for 17 City Council wards with Black majorities, down by one and 14 Latino majority wards, an increase of one. But the Latino Caucus has its own vision.

To reflect an increase in the city’s Latino population and the decline in Black residents, the Latino caucus wants 15 majority Latino wards.

“Our colleagues are locked in,” said Ald. Gilbert Villegas. “We are demanding 15 seats.”

On Monday, Mayor Lightfoot said she’s up to speed about the various proposals including the gap between the Black and Latino caucuses.

“This is a fundamental exercise in democracy and democracy is about reaching compromise,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot suggested the Black and Latino caucuses should not have made map demands public.

“People put their stakes in the ground,” she said. “I don’t think that that was necessarily early on was the right way to go because I think it’s caused a lot of consternation and acrimony.”

The mayor says she wants the public to weigh in on the final map, but City Council has not left much time for that.

“Transparency around this process is really important,” Lightfoot said. “So I’ve been very consistent with that. They’ve gotten themselves into a little pickle because the Dec. 1 date is looming large.”

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.

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