May 11, 2022 - Politics

Ward map winners and losers

Politician in front of board
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) and members of the Chicago City Council Latino Caucus call for transparency in the map process in December 2021. Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

It looks like we won't be voting on a new ward map after all.

Why it matters: The new map will determine local power centers for the next decade.

What they're saying: "I'm thrilled my colleagues have come together in compromise in what has been a long and challenging process," said Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) in a statement.

Context: After census data showed rising Latino populations, the Latino Caucus demanded 15 majority wards in the new map, up from 13.

  • The caucus members refused to vote for a map that only granted 14, denying the council the needed 41 votes while endorsing their own solution, the People's Coalition Map.

Yes, but: In the last week, a handful of caucus members switched sides, leading to a compromise map that still features 14 Latino-majority wards.

The other side: "Latinos lost for the second decade in a row," the People's Coalition said in a statement. "We're disappointed some of our colleagues chose to save themselves over the Latino community."

Other winners and losers with the new map:

Winners

Ald. Harris: The 8th-ward alderperson and chair of the Rules Committee brought home the bacon for her Black Caucus. Despite dropping population numbers in the 2020 census, the Black Caucus members were able to keep their wards.

  • Harris was also able to fend off the potentially expensive referendum.

Ald. Scott Waguespack: The 32nd-ward alderperson will inherit the Lincoln Yards mega-development. City watchdogs are happy because of Waguespack's history of holding corporations accountable.

Chinatown/Bridgeport: Asian American voters will get an Asian-majority ward in the 11th.

Losers

The 36th ward: Currently represented by Latino Caucus chair Gilbert Villegas, the ward has been redrawn to look like a noodle, and the map is being criticized for disconnecting the current community.

Ald. Silvana Tabares: The 23rd-ward alderperson was a vocal supporter of the People's Coalition Map, and for good reason. With the new map, her Southwest Side ward shrinks.

The bottom line: No matter who won this fight, it's clear that the process of redistricting ward maps is still full of backroom deals, transparency issues and politics.

What's next: City Council votes on the new map next week.

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