Dec 2, 2021 - Politics

New ward map still unresolved

A photo of the doors at City Hall.
Chicago's City Hall. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Yesterday was supposed to be the deadline for Chicago's city council to approve a new ward map. Instead, the vote was canceled and a new proposal emerged later in the day.

Why it matters: The new ward map will change the course of political power in the city for the next decade.

  • The law says that if the ward map isn't voted on by December 1st, it's put on the 2022 ballot for voters to decide but can be removed if city council can secure 41 votes to pass the new map anytime up to the June election.
  • In other words: this deadline is for show.

Driving the news: The Latino Caucus held a press conference yesterday morning saying their members want no less than 15 majority-Latino wards (they currently have 13).

  • This proposal gives the Caucus 14 seats.

Takeaways: The new proposal would shrink the Black Caucus from 18 to 16 seats and remap the 34th ward, currently represented by Ald. Carrie Austin. The second-longest serving alderperson is currently under indictment for corruption. She is not going to seek another term in 2023, per Block Club Chicago.

  • The new map process was led in part by attorney Michael Kasper, who has experience in redrawing maps but also worked for longtime political boss Michael J. Madigan. So it's not a surprise to hear that Madigan's ally Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) and indicted Ald. Ed Burke (14th) are getting favorable treatment to keep their political empires intact.
  • This reportedly has Mayor Lightfoot threatening to veto any map that gives favor to Burke, though she wasn't wasn't at City Hall for the last-minute back and forth, instead attending meetings at the White House.

Between the (re-drawn) lines: The new map would carve out a majority-Asian ward that would include Chinatown.

  • The mega-development Lincoln Yards would switch hands, moving from the 2nd ward to the 32d ward (helmed by finance chair Ald. Scott Waguespack).

What's next: "Well, it's going to be a mess," former alderperson and political science professor Dick Simpson tells Axios. "I think at the moment, it's likely to go to a referendum. And it may well end up in court."

  • Before the full council votes on this new map, they've set public hearings for December and January.
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