Fifteen alderpeople moved Thursday to ask Chicago voters to decide what the boundaries of the city’s 50 wards should be, escalating the raging dispute over the map that will shape Chicago politics for the next decade and determine the balance of power between Black, Latino and Asian Chicagoans.
By filing the map crafted by the Chicago Latino Caucus with the city clerk’s office, the alderpeople ensured that the June 28 primary election ballot would ask voters to decide what the ward map should look like for the first time in 30 years — unless 41 alderpeople can agree on a map before May 19.
Latino Caucus Vice Chair Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd Ward) said those negotiations will continue in the coming weeks but called on members of the City Council’s Rules Committee and the Black Caucus to negotiate in good faith — something she said they had not done since the remapping effort began.
“It is time to let the people of Chicago decide,” what the ward map will look like, Tabares said.
The map supported by the City Council’s Black Caucus, which was released Wednesday, is “tortuously gerrymandered,” said Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward).
The Rules Committee will hold hearings on the proposed ward maps at 3 p.m. Tuesday and 1 p.m. Dec. 10.
The map backed by the Black Caucus crafts 14 wards with a majority of Latino voters and 16 wards with a majority of Black voters. However, the Latino Caucus has drawn a map with 15 wards with a majority of Latino voters, and its members said again Thursday they will not accept a map with any fewer.
The map supported by the Black Caucus has 34 co-sponsors, seven short of what it needs to become law. The Latino Caucus needed 10 alderpeople to file its map with the clerk — and had five more than it needed.
Always fraught, this year’s remapping effort is particularly tense because of the city’s changing racial makeup. While Chicago’s Black population dropped 10%, its Latino population jumped 5% and its Asian American population surged 30%, according to the 2020 census.
State law requires Chicago wards to be “nearly equal as practicable” while being as “contiguous” and “compact” as possible while complying with the Voting Rights Act, which is designed to protect the voting rights of Black, Latino and Asian residents.
Since Chicago’s population in 2020 was 2,746,388 residents, each ward should have 54,928 residents, according to data presented to the Chicago City Council.
Maps from both groups would redraw the 11th Ward to create a ward centered around Chinatown with a majority of Asian American voters, carving up the heart of the political empire that elected former Mayors Richard J. Daley and Richard M. Daley and ruled the city for decades.
That proposal comes over the vehement objections of the mayors’ grandson and nephew Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th Ward), who is scheduled to stand trial in February on charges that he submitted false tax returns and lied to FBI agents.
In a letter to 11th Ward residents, Daley Thompson said he opposed efforts to create a ward with a majority of Asian voters because it would split up Canaryville and McKinley Park to make that possible.
“Dividing areas or neighborhoods based on race is indeed racism,” Daley Thompson wrote.
The Black Caucus’ map would move the 34th Ward — now on the Far South Side, which saw a steep drop in population during the past decade — to the booming area south and west of the Loop.
Ald. Carrie Austin (34th Ward), the second longest serving member of the City Council, confirmed Wednesday she plans to retire after her term ends in 2023.
Austin is awaiting trial on charges she took bribes and lied to FBI agents. Austin has pleaded not guilty.
The Black Caucus’ map also shifts the massive Lincoln Yards development from Ald. Brian Hopkins’ 2nd Ward to Ald. Scott Waguespack’s 32nd Ward. While Hopkins shepherded the proposal through a highly contentious approval process in 2019, Waguespack opposed the proposal.
However, the Latino Caucus map keeps Lincoln Yards in Hopkins’ ward, as he wants. Hopkins told reporters he did not sign on to the Latino Caucus map because of Lincoln Yards.