Jan 12, 2022 - Politics

Ward remap battle could come to ballot near you

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Chicago Ald. Gilbert Villegas, chair of the Latino caucus, during a City Council meeting in 2021. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

It's early 2022 and the Black and Latino caucuses are still at odds over the new city ward map with no compromise in sight.

Why it matters: This decennial remap will set the course of Chicago politics for the next decade as a theoretical reflection of the 2020 census figures.

Context: A new map was approved by a city hall committee in December. But the Latino caucus and its 13 wards came out against it because they want at least 15 majority Latino wards based on population increases.

  • Even though the Black caucus lost population, they don't want to give up any more seats.

By the numbers: City council needs 41 votes to pass a new map into existence, otherwise competing maps will be voted on in June.

  • The Latino Caucus is holding out, making it increasingly likely this issue will head to next year. They back a different map called the coalition map, along with a handful of other alderpeople including Brian Hopkins (2nd).
  • "The coalition map is fair, almost perfectly balanced among demographics, and there was a more transparent process to develop it," Hopkins tells Axios.

Driving the news: 2022's first public hearing was held yesterday by the rules committee heading up the ward remap process.

What they're saying: "They don't want to cooperate, they don't want to work, they would rather come in and destroy the process than work with their colleagues," said Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), chair of the rules committee, of the Latino caucus.

The other side: "We're not gonna be pushed around anymore or have our constituents used as backfill in order to prop up other wards," Latino caucus chair Gilbert Villegas tells Axios.

  • "Not only are the maps proposed by our colleagues diluting our ability to elect more Latinos to office, but they put currently elected Latino officials in jeopardy of losing their seats over the next decade."

Big picture: Fights over representation and redistricting are happening all over the country.

What's next: The city council says they will have one more public hearing to review the map this month.

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