SYCAMORE – A yearslong effort in the making compounded by delayed U.S. Census Bureau data came to fruition recently, as the DeKalb County Board approved a new redistricting map for elections.
The new districts will go into effect for the November 2022 election, confirmed county officials this week.
DeKalb County Board Chairman John Frieders said he knew a lot of work and time went into creating the map and was thankful for the people who worked on it.
“At one time we thought would be an easy process – but it certainly is not,” Frieders said with a laugh.
The more noticeable changes between the approved map and the current map include District 1 no longer encompassing the Shabbona area; instead it will now the Kingston area. District 2 now encompasses northern Sycamore Township and all of Genoa Township but no longer Kingston Township. District 3 covers most of northern Sycamore but only the southern half of Sycamore Township. District 5 now includes all of Cortland, the DeKalb County portion of Maple Park and the northern halves of Afton and Pierce townships; and District 11 now includes the Shabbona area.
The DeKalb County Board voted, 23-0, to approve the new map during its recent meeting this month. County Board member Larry West – a Republican who represents the county’s first district, which currently includes Malta, Shabbona, Paw Paw, Milan, South Grove, Mayfield and Franklin townships – was absent from the meeting.
DeKalb County Administrator Brian Gregory said the creation of the new map was years in the making. He said it’s a process that many current board members began a few years ago.
“So it’s pretty neat to see good government in motion and seeing this process come along,” Gregory said.
The county board adopted a fair map ordinance a few years ago which was added to county code, setting parameters for redistricting. Some of the criteria that has to be met includes the county meeting a 3% quotient, a 5% ideal population and an 8% range variance.
The Nov. 17 vote came after Sheila Santos, information technology director for DeKalb County, previously said the delayed release of 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data was to blame for proposed changes in redistricting within county code. The county board approved those code changes back in April.
The 2020 census data was originally slated to be released in April but the date was pushed back to the end of September. With Illinois state law stating at the time that county board districts have to be adopted by July, that created a kink in the county’s timeline to create new district maps.
Gregory said he believes good boundaries within the map were set. He gave credit to those involved in the process of making that happen.
“And hopefully that others will follow DeKalb County’s example of creating a fair map,” Gregory said.
According to Illinois law and the approved county government resolution, each county with less than 3,000,000 inhabitants and with townships form of government is required to “reapportion its county so that each member of the board represents that same number of inhabitants.” The board was required to file the new approved map with the County Clerk’s office by Dec. 31, the resolution states.
DeKalb County Board member Tim Bagby, who also chairs the county’s Republican Party, said he fully supports the maps as they were drawn and doesn’t believe they’re partisan.
“This does not look like it was drawn by politicians prying for taxes.”