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Kane County Redistricting Draws Inside the Lines

My view on the redistricting process (so far)

Last week, the Kane County Redistricting Task Force completed a review of a "97 percent complete" draft of a 24-seat map.  The remaining 3 percent likely will be resolved when the task force meets Wednesday night.

If so, the map and the matter of 24 districts should be on May 10 County Board agenda for final approval and end the redistricting process two months ahead of the legally required deadline.

I say "should" because it is not clear it will happen that way. But I believe that it should, because it would set an excellent example of County Board member cooperation.

Despite some of the verbal jousting observed at two prior task force committee meetings, the process has gone amazingly well. The task of redrawing a map to accommodate 100,000 new residents and eliminate two districts at the same time is extremely difficult for one person to achieve, never mind getting 26 politicians to cooperate—but for the most part that is what has happened.

Having participated in the sub-group working on our districts in central Kane County and coordinating with our colleagues to the north and south, I can tell you that there has been very little of the political shenanigans that people oftentimes suspect in these things. The process has been methodical, coordinated, and deliberate.

The county was divided into three subgroups: north, central and south. Each of the subgroups met to redraw districts to achieve three objectives: (1) achieve a population of 21,500, plus or minus 5 percent; (2) create federally required minority districts, and; (3) create compact and contiguous shapes (no gerrymandering.)

When the subgroups completed their respective draft maps, they shared them with their neighbors to the north or south (in our case, north and south.) Overlapping or conflicting areas between the subgroups were worked out, and then a composite map was drawn and presented last week.

Unless the board genuinely wants to consider another map with 26 or 22 districts, this map should be approved, signed, sealed and delivered on May 10. For all I know, we'd be the first county in the state to complete its work—not bad for a county of more than a half million people. It would also demonstrate that the Kane County Board can work efficiently and cooperatively to tackle an otherwise complex political process.  

Unless there is a legitimate reason for not finalizing the map on May 10, I can see no good that would come from not doing so. Beyond May 10, we will be entering the realm of diminishing returns, with more effort put in and less benefit derived, or worse, losses could begin to occur.

From my perspective, 24 seats is the right number. It's a measured approach and the reason why the map has come together so well up to this point.

I say we show the rest of the state how it's done and finish it up May 10.

Marc Avelar April 26, 2011 at 11:09 AM
In order to view Kane County's initial draft map unveiled at the April 21st Redistricting Task Force meeting, it's on-line at http://www.countyofkane.org/Pages/CountyBoard/committee.aspx?cID=54 and simply click the draft map. It's in PDF format, and shows all of the districts, with population counts, as well as population counts by voting precincts. It should be pointed out that one of the few shortcomings of this draft map had to do with the village of North Aurora being split between three proposed districts. With the elimination of District 9, neighboring districts divided the population of the 7th largest municipality in Kane County three ways. This is an issue which between now and the next Redistricting Task Force meeting on May 4th, can be resolved and maintain the village of North Aurora in 1 county board district. While North Aurora was pointed out by several board members on April 21st, another growing municipality being split 3-ways is the village of Gilberts. Currently, Gilberts residents are represented by Board Member TR Smith (R, Burlington). The draft map splits Gilberts between Smith's district (25th), Tim Haley's new district (21st) and Cathy Hurlbut/Jeanette Mihalec district (18). Hopefully, the village of Gilberts will continue to be represented by 1 board member, too. Additionally, while Mr. Donahue is optimistic about finishing on May 10th, weren't formal public hearings of the final draft map promised, so residents can comment on the map?
Mike Donahue April 27, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Clarification: This article refers to the Redistricting Task Force meeting "Wednesday night." The meeting is next Wednesday night, May 4, at 5:00 p.m. at the Kane County government center.
Mike Donahue April 27, 2011 at 03:57 PM
I understand that public comment will be taken at the next task force meeting on May 4.

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