With only days to go until a deadline that would have forced a public referendum, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance authorizing a redistricting map for the city’s 50 wards. The vote was 43 to 7.
Freshman Ald. Maria Hadden (49th Ward) admitted before the vote that “getting 41 or more of us to agree to anything is an extremely difficult task.”
The council has been going back and forth for months trying to balance political power against the results of the 2020 Census. The final plan includes 16 Black Majority Wards and 14 Latino majority wards. It also, for the first time, creates an Asian-American majority ward.
Nicole Lee (11th Ward), who was recently appointed to fill the vacancy left by the conviction of former 11th Ward Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson thanked her fellow council members for “allowing the Asian American Community to have a voice and have a political representative.”
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Getting to this point has not been easy. The Black and Hispanic caucuses have each struggled to maintain and expand their constituencies.
That tension led to drama before the vote when Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward) complained about being locked out of the re-districting process.
“I guess I am one of the few that’s not part of the kumbaya club,” Beale said. “This is not a compromise; this is a backroom deal map.”
Jason Ervin (28th Ward), chairman of the Black Caucus, lashed back saying he took “great offense” to Beale’s claims.
“No sir, you were not locked out…you sold out,” Ervin Said.
But Ald. David Moore (17th Ward) seemed to speak for the majority when he said, “this body here is not perfect, but it is good, and it is trying to do the right thing.”
“What we voted on today," said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), “was to provide those incentives and that opportunity for Latinos, for Blacks, and for the first time ever, an Asian American ward that they have been waiting decades for.”
This plan, however, is still liable to face court challenges. The redrawn 36th Ward snakes along Grand Avenue from West Town to Belmont Central. Englewood is now split between five different aldermen.
The first real test of any political power derived from this remap could come as early as February of 2023, which is the start of Chicago’s next election cycle.