Chicago alderpeople are at odds over redrawing the city’s ward map, a procedure that happens every 10 years to account for population changes. The biggest sticking point is the balance of power between Black and Latino Chicagoans.
The latest proposal backed by the Black Caucus would reduce the number of majority Black wards from 18 to 16 and increase the number of Latino majority wards from 13 to 14, but the Latino Caucus is holding firm and refusing to accept fewer than 15 wards. It’s a position backed by several Latino groups including the coalition, Illinois Latino Agenda 2.0.
“I'll tell you in concept, we are absolutely in support of 15 Latino majority wards here in the city,” said Juan Morado Jr. of Illinois Latino Agenda 2.0, “We like the idea that this map puts forward, but more important, we also like the idea that it's equitable across the city. It creates the first Asian majority ward here in the city of Chicago, which is long overdue and also ensures that there are stronger Black majority wards throughout the city of Chicago while keeping communities contiguous and compact.”
Part of the tension between the Black and Latino Caucuses can be attributed to the 2020 Census which showed significant shifts in Chicago’s demographics. The city’s Black population is now smaller than the city's Latino population, 28.7% compared to 29.9%. Members of the Latino Caucus argue these population changes need to be reflected in the city’s ward map, but residents of historically Black neighborhoods are concerned about losing representation in City Council.
“Especially folks who are living in West Englewood already and starting to see that their neighborhood is changing, they already feel like they're losing some footing in West Englewood, and so I think the idea, not even knowing the facts or the math of the population, just the idea that, you know, we might not be represented the way that we're supposed to, based on our population is scary for a lot of folks,” said Asiaha Butler, co-founder and CEO of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood.
The map supported by the Black Caucus has 34 co-sponsors, seven short of what it needs to become law. The Latino Caucus filed its map proposal with the City Clerk’s office Thursday triggering for now the first public referendum of its kind in 30 years. City council members now have until mid-May to continue negotiations and agree on a map, or it will be up to the public in June. One of the maps Chicago residents could be considering is the “People’s Map” created by the Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission.
“I believe 100%, if given the opportunity, the people of Chicago will vote for the People's Map because it strives to keep communities whole and empower residents so that they can have a voice in their communities,” said Chaundra Van Dyk, project manager of the Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission.
So far, the People’s Map does not have the 10 aldermen it needs to go up for a potential vote in June, but it would create 15 majority Black wards, 14 majority Latino wards and one Asian American ward. Two City Council hearings are set for next week to continue negotiations.