‘The People’s Map’: Reform groups’ reimagining of Chicago’s 50 wards unveiled

Chicago News

CHICAGO  The political wrangling over new ward boundaries is kicking into high gear at City Hall. But an independent group is hoping to put an end to the backroom deals, unveiling its own proposed map Wednesday afternoon. 

It’s a long shot but reform groups have produced an independent Chicago ward map — a suggestion for City Council, which must approve a new map. ‘The People’s Map’ is a reimagining of Chicago’s 50 wards. 

The new ward map looks to eliminate questionable boundaries drawn by the local aldermen to keep power. A 13-member commission formed by a coalition of reform groups, including Change Illinois, produced the map.  

“Never before have the people of Chicago been given a seat at the table to chart a possible path forward and future for themselves,” said Graciela Covarrubias, with Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission.

“We need to get the information about the map out to the people so that they can demand it of their alders,” said Chris Kanich, Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission.

In the past, the mayor and council members drew the map behind closed doors. This time around, some issues were raised publicly.

With Chicago’s Latino population growing, their caucuses want more seats. 

Alderman Gilbert Villegas is Chairman of the Latino Caucus. 

“The Latino community has grown to the point where it’s only 40,000 away from being a plurality in the city and so as a result of that, all we’re looking for is our fair share of representation,” Villegas said.

The independent People’s Map includes 15 Black wards, 14 Latino wards and for the first time, an Asian majority ward. 

“The People’s Map has most of Armor Square, most of Bridgeport and a good section of McKinley Park,” said David Wu, executive director of Pui Tak Center. “It reflects the growing Chinese and Asian American community over the past four decades.”

City Council faces a Dec. 1 deadline. The members leading the negotiations include:

  • Alderwoman Michelle Harris 
  • Alderman Villegas 
  • Alderman Jason Ervin 
  • Alderman Harry Osterman 
  • Alderman Matt O’Shea

Forty-one alderpeople must approve the map. If 10 members object and introduce a different map, it will force a special election, allowing Chicago residents to decide.

In a statement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot told WGN News she welcomes the input. But her office did say that the mayor would commit to the independent map. 

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