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Lines Being Drawn on Redistricting in Elmhurst

Municipal and county leaders urge senators to keep Elmhurst districts intact so eastern portions of town will not be included in Cook County districts.

Local and countywide elected officials asked members of the Senate Redistricting Subcommittee to protect current legislative lines in DuPage County during the map drawing process.

The elected officials, primarily from eastern communities within the county, expressed the idea that DuPage County is a unique community of common interests–interests not always shared with communities in Cook County. A new legislative map could divide some of the eastern municipalities, like Elmhurst and Downers Grove, and join them in a legislative district with Cook County municipalities. Those communities are currently represented by Republican legislators. Adding portions of those communities to a district made up of mostly Cook County communities would dilute the Republican stronghold of DuPage County.

Every 10 years the political lines must be redrawn to account for population shifts recorded in the U.S. Census. The legislature is charged with redrawing the political maps. With Democrats in charge of both legislative houses, they are free to draw the maps as they see fit with little Republican input. The Illinois Constitution calls for legislative districts to be contiguous, compact and of equal population.

The majority of the speakers recognized the likely possibility that at least some majority Republican districts will be diluted with the larger Democratic majority in Cook County.

Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni said he wants to see his town remain as whole as possible in the redistricting process. Currently, Elmhurst is divided into two House districts and two Senate districts. He said the city has strong representation, and the people have easy access to their lawmakers. He said if a small portion of Elmhurst is added to a majority Cook County district, then some of Elmhurst’s citizenry would lose a voice in Springfield.

DiCianni said Elmhurst has different legislative concerns from towns to the east, especially since the city has a water reclamation district as well as a unit school district.

“There’s a significant separation between Elmhurst and the towns to the east. We have different wants and needs,” DiCianni said.

Echoing DiCianni was Paul Fichtner, a Republican member of the DuPage County Board and a former Elmhurst alderman. Fichtner said he understands how difficult it is to draw political maps, referring to redistricting going on at the county level. He said the legislature should give consideration to keeping DuPage border communities whole because of the differing philosophies, wants and needs of Cook communities.

DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin, an Elmhurst resident, said the county has a unique identity. Since the split off from Cook County in the late 19th century, DuPage has enjoyed being intact within its boundaries and has remained largely self-sufficient, Cronin said.

“Let’s keep a map that’s been fair and equitable, let’s keep a map that demonstrates our family features if you may,” said Cronin, a former state senator.

Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican and member of the redistricting subcommittee, asked Cronin if it was true that DuPage residents looked to the uniqueness of the county like a marketable brand.

“There’s something significant about this community that deserves its own brand of representation,” Cronin said.

DuPage County has a population of 916,924 according to 2010 U.S. Census data. Cronin said the population only grew by about 12,000 people in the past 10 years. Cronin said the areas of the county that showed significant growth were the western communities, particularly the Naperville area, while the eastern communities like Elmhurst and Addison lost population.  

Also testifying on behalf of preserving DuPage legislative districts were Mark Novak, an Addison Township trustee, and Addison Mayor Larry Hartwig.

But not everyone who testified wants to preserve the existing legislative districts. Bob Peickert, an Elmhurst resident and chairman of the DuPage County Democratic Party, said he believes the voting rights of the growing number of minorities in the county need to be protected. He said minority voters make up about 30 percent of the county's population.

“There is a changing constituency in DuPage County, and they need to be represented fairly in Springfield. The districts that overlap Cook and DuPage counties are a logical starting point,” Peickert said.

Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat and chairman of the subcommittee meeting in Elmhurst, said he expects a map to be completed by the middle of May, but said there is no solid target date. Once a map is completed, the Senate will seek public commentary, Harmon said. A new political map must be approved by May 31.

Mike April 22, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Wow, that woud be a twist. DuPage county residents now aligned with Cook County politicians - talk about unusual politics - Life in the modern world!
Ken April 24, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Bob Peickert, chairman of the DuPage County Democratic Party, assumes a lot when he states that the 30% minority in DuPage County need their interests to be represented by Democrats. I think a lot of minorities, especially homeowners, are probably closer to Republican values once they move out here. I'm sure they don't want the kind of neighborhoods they left in the city. Secondly, that 30% minority includes a good chunk of illegal aliens. While they are counted in the census I personally don't believe they should have a say so in government affairs such as this.
Mike April 25, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Could not agree more, lots of my friends who are minorities are not thrilled with Democratic politicians. The republican party has alot to offer minorities & they get elected by ALL voters in DuPage. Look what happen in Nov. 2010 election. Who is Pierkert, never heard of him? A non minority in DuPage
Bill Angel April 25, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Mike, minorities go with the best political value for their very hard earned money and family values. Minorities come in all shapes, sizes, color and countries. My neighbors are from Poland, they are great hard working highly educated individuals who come to America for opportunity. The family across me is from Albania who waites on tables and cleans homes for the wealthy. DuPage County is loaded with new alien folks who want a better life for themselves. America has become lazy and so have a majority of kids today who want want want. iphone, ipads, Xbox, TV, 10 pairs of Jordon shoes, money, thier own bathroom....stop already....this current economy hurts the poor minorities the most..
Mike April 25, 2011 at 07:25 PM
But minorities per the government are not emmigrants from Poland and Albania. Sure they are new here and you do bring up some generalities about the condition here. All young folks are not just interested in modern technology, the real intelligensia of America whether old or young, do work hard. The young people who are admitted to medical schools work very hard to get there as do young women and men who are admitted to law & pharmacy schools etc. America may appear to be lazy but we have outpriced ourselves in the global economy. Look at the auto industry and the steel industry and electronics. We don't manufacture that much anymore. It is not so much being lazy, it is the attitude of some unions and some workers & countries in the Pacific Rim & Mexico pay below minimum US wages and we lose out . Believe me there are many people here that work plenty hard and many young people who ignore the pop culture of Xboxes and Ipads.
Darlene Heslop April 25, 2011 at 07:42 PM
i just looked at the boundary maps for the 41st and 46th districts, which represent elmhurst. over 1/3 of the 41st district (currently served by state rep. nybo) is in cook county, serving such municipalities as la grange, la grange park, brookfield (including the animals at the zoo), broadview, north riverside and riverside. currently the 46th district, which serves elmhurst from north of st. charles road, and is served by state rep. dennis reboletti, is entirely in du page county, serving parts of elmhurst, villa park and addison. so why don't we push the illinois legislature to put all of elmhurst into 1 district, preferrably the 46th, since that would keep all of elmhurst in a district within dupage county and served by a representative from elmhurst? this seems very logical, and gets to the gist of the problem at hand. advocating for a "unified elmhurst" has a better chance of bringing the desired result rather than continually arguing the "du page republicans vs the big bad cook county democrats."
Mike April 25, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Nybo might want to look into that issue especially if he counts on DuPage Republicans to help carry him. There will be alot less, next time around.

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