Government

DuPage County Board releases redistricting map called ‘very sound,’ with a few objections

A bipartisan group of DuPage County Board members has unveiled a redistricting plan over the objections of a few Democrats who sought another version of an electoral map despite a looming deadline.

In a series of forums starting Thursday, a special board committee will solicit public feedback on the proposal to redraw political boundaries that will apply for the next decade.

So far, the committee overseeing redistricting, the process of reconfiguring the six county board districts to reflect population shifts, has largely avoided partisan bickering. Some Democrats and Republicans alike have signed on to the draft map. The full board has until Nov. 17 to adopt new district lines.

“We have drawn a very sound, legal map,” consultant Josina Morita told board members ahead of Thursday’s open house. “You meet equal population standards. You’re in no violation of voting rights standards. Some of the attempts to keep particular townships and precincts intact, respecting major geographic boundaries, were all taken into account.”

All of Roselle, for instance, would fall into District 1 instead of keeping a chunk of the village in District 6. In Lombard, Main Street would become the dividing line between District 4 and District 2, straightening out a zigzag drawn a decade ago.

The redistricting committee also met a self-imposed goal: The draft map shows less than a 1% difference in population between districts. The county’s population overall grew slightly over the last decade, by about 15,000 residents, new U.S. census data showed.

“I am very comfortable with the map that we have as well,” said board member Liz Chaplin, a District 2 Democrat. “I thought it was a good process. We all worked well together.”

First-term board member Amy Chavez, however, pushed for an alternative to the map, a request rejected by the rest of the committee, including fellow Democrats.

“The red flag for me was that it hasn’t changed to look like a lot of the changes that DuPage County has had,” Chavez said.

Last week, Chavez sent a one-sentence directive to consultants from Grapple LLC, a firm hired by the county to help reshape district lines.

“I would like to see alternative maps using traditional redistricting parameters, taking out incumbency requirements,” Chavez wrote in an email.

But attorneys and Jim Zay, the chairman of the redistricting committee and the board’s longest-serving member, said there are no incumbency requirements. Mapmakers said they didn’t take into account where incumbents live.

“You were already within legal deviation, and you were already not in violation of the Voting Rights Act,” Morita said of existing districts. “So any line that was moved through this process was moved at the direction of board members through the participatory process.”

Mary Ozog, a District 4 Democrat, also said she was ready to move forward with the proposal.

“Sometimes you just don’t have to reinvent the wheel, even if the districts still look relatively the way they do,” Ozog said. “It makes sense in terms of communities. It makes sense geographically.”

Still, Chavez and board member Sheila Rutledge said they wanted to consider a separate map created by the Democratic-led board of forest preserve commissioners. That idea also met resistance.

“What you’re saying is that the county of DuPage should abdicate their authority to draw a map and give it to another entity that doesn’t have that authority,” said Zay, a District 6 Republican.

District commissioners narrowly decided in August to establish their own electoral boundaries, potentially complicating matters for voters.

Forest Preserve Commissioners Al Murphy and Linda Painter, both Republicans who attended the county board redistricting meeting Tuesday, said they haven’t even seen a proposed map. Painter said the district hired an attorney to draw it.

“They’ve given us zero input on what they’re trying to draw. I have no idea what they’re trying to draw,” GOP county board member Brian Krajewski said.

The forums, meanwhile, will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Monday in the county administration building in Wheaton. Residents can view the proposed map online and provide comments at dupageco.org/RedistrictingFeedback. The full county board is expected to review the proposed map on Oct. 26. All 18 board seats will be on the ballot in 2022 as a result of redistricting.