GRAND BOULEVARD — The City Council’s Black caucus unveiled its proposal for redrawing the city’s 50 wards Monday, offering to give up one of its majority-Black wards as Black and Latino alderpeople duel over political representation.
The Black Caucus map outlines 18 white wards, 17 Black wards, 14 Latino wards and one Asian ward. The Latino caucus map would reduce Black wards from 18 to 16, while increasing Latino wards from 13 to 15.
The Black Caucus map does not delineate all 50 ward lines; it sketches out where the majority Black, Latino, white and Asian wards would be, but would leave it up to alderman to determine specific boundaries.
Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said the plan was “the right path” for the city and that the city’s drop in Black residents shouldn’t mean a decrease in representation.
“What we’ve drawn is something that is representative of the city of Chicago and the Black community in its entirety,” Ervin said at a press conference at Harold Washington Cultural Center.
In a statement, members of the Latino Caucus rejected the proposal, saying fewer than 15 wards “underrepresents” Latino Chicagoans.
“The only way Chicago’s growing Latino population gets its legally warranted and fair representation is with 15 majority-Latino wards,” the group said in a statement.
The struggle over the highly politicized process comes amid a rapidly approaching deadline. At least 41 City Council members must endorse some version of the map by Dec. 1 to avoid sending competing maps to Chicago voters next year.
The Latino caucus map has backing from 15 council members. An independent citizen’s group also is seeking support for their version, called the People’s Map.
Black caucus members have resisted calls to scale down the number of their wards even though Black population in Chicago has dwindled and Latino population has increased in the last ten years. They have criticized the Latino Caucus map and how it proposes to redraw majority Black wards.
At a hearing last week, Ervin said he was “disappointed another protected class would basically go after another protected class in order to create something that only benefitted them.”
Ervin said the Black Caucus plan would make it easier for Black and Latino candidates to win aldermanic races.
Under voting rights law, minority ward districts cannot be intentionally eliminated or diluted, said political strategist Ed Sarpolus, who runs polling firm Target-Insyght. Sarpoulus added that his initial focus was ensuring residents could be heard in forming the city’s predominantly Asian ward, which leaders of both caucuses have supported.
With the deadline to approve a new ward map a little over a week away, Ervin said he and his fellow caucus members are optimistic that “cooler heads would prevail.”
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