Redraw of DuPage County Maps Draws Comments from Public
Public hearing participants favor map known as "May 18."
A handful of DuPage residents expressed opinions about two plans detailing new County Board lines, but they largely backed one map during a redistricting public hearing with the DuPage County Board Redistricting Committee Monday night.
Residents supported the map known as "May 18" because it does not divide Lombard between county Districts 2 and 4.
Carol Davis, a Villa Park resident and chairman of York Township Democratic Organization, said the maps should represent the people’s interests and not become politically safe districts for incumbents. She said approving the "May 18" map (named based of the date it was submitted) will give the people of Lombard greater representation.
That was the opinion voiced by Lombard resident Michael Ledonne, a former candidate for the College of DuPage Board of Trustees. Ledonne said if the map known as "May 17" is approved by the board, Lombard, which is one of the most populous towns in the county, would not likely be able to elect its own representative to the County Board. He said the voting strength of Lombard would be diluted, and the likely representative would come from a more populous area.
“Please consider the people of Lombard and York (Township),” Ledonne said.
Currently, the county Redistricting Committee only has two maps to work with, said Patrick O’Shea, Redistricting Committee chairman.
Kevin Fitzpatrick of Lombard echoed Ledonne saying the "May 17" map will disenfranchise 5,000 Lombard voters. He said if the 18 members of the County Board approve the "May 17" map it will only make 18 people happy, but will leave thousands of residents unhappy.
While the majority of the speakers overwhelmingly supported the "May 18" map, some residents said that plan would divide the village of Lisle between county Districts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
Currently, there are six political districts making up the County Board. Every 10 years, the political lines must be redrawn to account for population shifts recorded in the U.S. Census. Each of the six districts in the state’s second biggest county must be drawn so that 152,821 people live in each.
New Census data shows the largest population growth was around Naperville, which is in county District 5. That district will have to lose 12,000 people, which means other county districts will have to absorb those numbers.
In addition to criticism of the maps, some residents chose to criticize the board’s methods. Maryam Judar, an attorney with the Citizen Advocacy Center in Elmhurst, said she appreciated the efforts to have public hearings on country redistricting but believes the commissioners could do more. She criticized that the “act of map making happened behind closed doors.”
“The transparency has been between the board members and not the public,” Judar said.
Missy Wilhelm, president of the League of Women Voters of Wheaton, said the board represents the people and “should not carve out uncompetitive districts where no one can run against them.”
Board members have held hearings in the six county districts, but some are still scheduled. O’Shea said the board will not make a decision until those other public hearings are held.
While the board is working on its version of the map, County Board Chairman Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst) also has the ability to draw a map as he sees fit. In past media reports, Cronin shared a vision of nine county districts with two members from each district, as opposed to the current model of three members from six districts.
Cronin told the Redistricting Committee it is important for them to keep the county districts “compact and contiguous.”