Cook County seeks map suggestions
CAN YOU BEAT SPAGHETTI?
During the April 24 meeting at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, the county’s Redistricting Committee agreed to push its deadline for public map submissions back. Karin Hribar, vice president of The League of Women Voters of Cook County, told the committee their May 1 deadline was too soon to prepare suggestions.
The committee is open to public input about single districts or combinations of districts, but would most like to see outlines that include all 17 districts and cover the entire county.
They did not specify a new deadline last week, but were expected to during their May 1 meeting.
Those wishing to contribute boundary suggestions may submit them online at http://redistricting.cookcountyil.gov/index.php/contact-us/submit-map.
Updated: June 4, 2012 10:51AM
Not many Cook County residents spend time studying the boundaries of the Board of Commissioners’ districts; of those who have, some may deduce the misshapen outlines are the scribblings of a second-grader. They are, in fact, the labor of a professional map-drawing consultant, whom the county has brought back to the drawing board. This time, he would like some help from the public.
“Rather screwy,” was how Peter Creticos described the appearance of a few of the districts he designed in the current Cook County district map.
“The first order of business is to address issues of the Voting Rights Act,” which he told an audience last week forced some odd-looking layouts.
The county held meetings in a variety of locations around Chicago and the suburbs in April and this week, seeking public input for a new district map before Creticos draws a new one. Just as the 2010 U.S. Census data mandated boundary changes for state and federal elected officials’ districts, the county is redrawing its representatives’ lines — a task complicated by the fact that Chicago is, in terms of race and nation of origin, possibly the most diverse, yet segregated, city in the nation.
“It looks like you dropped spaghetti on Cook County,” said Creticos, a policy consultant and the man who took credit for dropping the spaghetti in the current model. “It’s not something that everybody’s going to feel very happy about at the end.”
What the next map will be is undefined. Creticos did not present any drafts, and press releases from the county in April asked residents to create suggestions that included all 17 districts and the entire county. The existing map went into effect on Sept. 6, 2001.
The new census reports that Cook County’s population dropped slightly in the ‘00s, shrinking from 5.38 million to 5.19 million people. Urban Districts 1, 4 and 8 were the hardest-hit, losing a combined 102,632 people, while most suburban regions showed small gains.
Such hard divisions create headaches for district-definers, Creticos said.