Activist community

In bitter fight to remap Chicago neighborhood, Latino Caucus and community-led activist group form new alliance | app

CHICAGO — As they prepare for the possibility of voters deciding new Chicago ward boundaries, Latino aldermen have teamed up with a progressive group on a proposed new map.

The news comes as black and Latino city council members, who are squabbling over the design of the neighborhood, can’t even agree on how many Latino-majority neighborhoods were created during the last remapping a decade ago.

Without this basic point of understanding in the negotiations, agreement on a new map becomes much more difficult and a referendum more likely.

The so-called People’s Map was unveiled last summer by the CHANGE Illinois Action Fund and activists who turned to a panel of community representatives to define lines for Chicago’s 50 neighborhoods. This was an attempt to remove politics from behind the scenes of the 10-year process. But now they will now join the Latino aldermen and others in the highly political process of trying to push their version of the map to victory.

As part of the agreement to work with this group, the Latino Caucus and its allies said Wednesday they had refined their “Coalition Map” to address some of the People’s Map priorities.

The Negotiated map now keeps the Englewood district in two districts, down from three.

It maintains the Chicago Avenue corridor on the west side in the same neighborhood as the South Austin neighborhood. And it reconfigures the Latino Caucus containing the Woodlawn neighborhood to also include Washington Park.

Latino Caucus Chairman Alderman Gilbert Villegas, 36, said the agreement between the groups “marks a turning point in our efforts to bring more transparency and accountability to the mapping process.”

“We are proud to have the endorsement and collaboration of CHANGE Illinois Action Fund as we work together to deliver a map that reflects hundreds of hours of community contribution, tracks census data, and fairly represents all communities in Chicago,” Villegas said. in a report.

But Black Caucus Chairman Alderman Jason Ervin, 28th, said the two-group map would “disenfranchise black voters and significantly reduce the gains the black community has made in Chicago.”

“For example, they are completely deconstructing the entire West Side of Chicago, diluting black voices in historic communities,” Ervin said in a statement. “The majority of the City Council stands firm on the map we’ve created that increases Latino neighborhoods, keeps Chicago’s black vote in City Hall, and creates our city’s first Asian American neighborhood.”

The people’s map enjoys little support from the city council, and the collaboration is unlikely to move the needle much to help the Latino caucus build on the 15 aldermen backing their proposed map.

But if at least 41 council members can’t agree on a single map and the ward issue goes to Chicago voters in a referendum on the June 28 primary election ballot, the imprimatur of the People’s card might come in handy.

Supporters of the Black Caucus map in council would likely lean on their superior numbers in a referendum campaign, counting on the 33 aldermen who endorsed the plan to make the case for voters in their wards and bring them to the table. ballot boxes.

The Latino Caucus and others supporting their map could pursue more of a citywide strategy, trying to convince groups of Chicago voters that their map plan is fairer.

Having the People’s Map group in their corner during the referendum campaign could help Latino aldermen make inroads with progressive voters and others concerned with getting politics out of map design.

And that referendum seems more likely, as negotiations between aldermen have mostly stalled and the two sides are arguing over the basic facts of the current map.

The Latino and Black caucuses have formed political committees in recent weeks that they could use to raise funds to spend in the election fight.

The proposed Black Caucus map that the council’s rules committee approved creates 16 black majority wards, 14 Latino wards and one additional black plurality ward.

The proposed Latino map includes 16 majority black neighborhoods and 15 majority Latino neighborhoods according to 2020 US Census data showing that Chicago’s Latino population grew and overtook blacks as the city’s second largest racial and ethnic group as the black population continued to decline. Proponents of both maps claim that the maps would create the city’s first majority Asian-American neighborhood.

During a bargaining session in late January, members of the Latino Caucus showed data they said indicated they already had 14 predominantly Latino neighborhoods on the map designed as a result of the 2010 U.S. Census. members of the Black Caucus insisted that the Latino Caucus only got 13 Latino neighborhoods in the last remapping deal, meaning the Black Caucus’ plan for the new map would increase that total by one neighborhood.

Rules committee chairwoman Alderman Michelle Harris, 8th, a black caucus member, pushed back against the Latino caucus, saying there are now 14 majority Latino wards.

“They’re making it up,” Harris said. “They had 13 wards in 2010, and they’ve actually gone down to 12 since then. I don’t know what numbers they’re looking at right now, what data they’re using. They set up their own parallel mapping process and we couldn’t see what they’re basing it on.

Villegas countered that Latinos were simply seeking fair representation.

“It’s not up to them to give us a certain number of quarters. The numbers are what they are, and we are tracking those numbers,” Villegas said. “Our map tracks these numbers. I don’t think there’s any way to move forward in the negotiations unless they want to make some adjustments. Otherwise, let the voters decide.

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