Negotiations over a new map of neighborhoods that will shape Chicago politics for the next decade remain deadlocked after a rare Sunday session failed to resolve the polarized debate over race that has only s worsen over the past month.
The session, which was broadcast live but closed to members of the public and news media, failed to resolve the central question at the heart of the debate that will determine the balance of political power between black, Latino Chicagoans and Asians.
Members of the Latino Caucus, led by Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th arrondissement), said again on Sunday that he would not support a map with less than 15 arrondissements with a majority of Latino voters.
Chicago’s black population fell 10%, its Latino population jumped 5% and its Asian American population jumped 30%, according to the 2020 census.
Members of the Black Caucus, led by Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward), said Sunday they would not accept a map with fewer than 16 wards with a majority of black voters.
Much of the two-hour meeting saw members of both caucus blaming each other for the standoff, raising the likelihood that voters will decide what the new ward map will look like for the first time in 30 years. To adopt a card, 41 aldermen must agree no later than May 19, the deadline for the June 28 primary ballot to be finalized.
“I can’t help you get to 15 rooms,” Ervin said. “We just aren’t in a position to cede any other neighborhoods in this process.”
The Black Caucus-backed card has 33 supporters, eight less than it needs to become law. The Latino Caucus map is supported by 15 aldermen.
The current ward map has 18 wards with a majority of black voters, and Black Caucus members have agreed to support a map with 16 wards with a majority of black voters and one ward with a plurality of black voters.
When the Chicago neighborhood map was redrawn after the 2010 census, there were 13 neighborhoods with a majority of Latino voters. Members of the Latino Caucus have repeatedly said that the map does not accurately reflect Chicago’s Latino population and that too few neighborhoods with a majority of Latino residents have been created. Many members have sworn to no longer agree to such an agreement.
Latinos became the city’s largest ethnic group in 2017, according to US census data. Chicago residents are 31.4% white, 29.9% Latino, 28.7% black and 6.9% Asian, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.
The two caucus maps would create a neighborhood with a majority of Asian American voters, which would be the first in Chicago’s history.
Villegas said remapping after the 2010 census should have created 14 neighborhoods with a majority of Latino residents, and fairness demands that the next map create 15 neighborhoods with a majority of Latino voters.
The meeting looked set to move forward when Villegas suggested a new round of talks focus on areas of disagreement between the Latino and Black caucuses, including the Southwest side, the Northwest side, the creation of a 34th ward with a completely new boundary and the boundary between the 9th and 10th wards.
However, Ervin said those talks would be pointless since the Black Caucus would not accept a map with 15 wards where a majority of voters were Latino, because that would mean there could only be 15 wards with a majority of voters. black voters.
“I’m offended by what you’ve proposed,” Ervin told members of the Latino Caucus, accusing them of dividing the city along racial lines.
Aldus. Silvana Tabares (23rd arrondissement), vice president of the Latino caucus, said it might not be possible to resolve the impasse.
“We may have to let the voters decide,” said Tabares, who noted that the Black Caucus-backed map would move his home from the 23rd Ward to the 14th Ward, now represented by indicted Ald. Ed Burke. “We are not afraid of a referendum.”
This brought a direct response from Ald. Michelle Harris (8th Ward), a member of the Black Caucus who, as head of the rules committee, oversaw the map drawing process.
“For the record, Michelle Harris doesn’t fear a referendum,” said Harris, who is also the leader for Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
State law requires that Chicago neighborhoods be “nearly equal as far as possible” while being as “contiguous” and “compact” as possible.
Given that Chicago’s population in 2020 was 2,746,388, each neighborhood should have a population of 54,928, according to data presented to the Chicago City Council.
Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]