Will County Board panel begins process of reapportioning districts for next election

Members could alter structure of board with 26 members from 13 districts

Will County Board members began discussion Tuesday about the process of reapportioning their district map as they are legally required to every 10 years.

The ad-hoc Reapportionment Committee met virtually to review the process officials undertook last year when they drew a map consisting of 13 districts with about 51,000 residents each. Each district has two elected representatives on the board.

Don Gould, R-Shorewood, said this year’s reapportionment process will be less complex than it was in 2010. That’s because the population has grown much less since 2010 than it did between 2000 and 2010.

He added the last reapportionment was also “very successful” in increasing representation of voters of color, citing the number of Black members who have been elected.

Nick Palmer, the chief of staff to the board, said the process of drawing the map is easier than in the past with technology from the county’s Geographic Information Systems.

The board needs to approve a new map no later than its July meeting, though that might be hindered because the updated U.S. Census data might not be available until after the deadline.

Pandemic expenses

Also on Tuesday, the Finance Committee discussed the use of COVID-19 relief funds to reimburse various county departments for expenses related to the pandemic, which could be voted on next week.

Last year, as the original deadline approached to use funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, a county panel voted to “de-federalize” more than $30 million by reimbursing public safety costs which would free up the money to use for other expenses beyond the end of the year.

After the extension of the deadline, county officials have continued to debate how to spend the remaining money. The County Board has already appropriated about $5 million to enhance the local COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort.

The Will County Board Capital Improvements Committee is also debating how to use the money to build a new county morgue facility.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.