Several community groups and area residents voiced their opinions on the decennial congressional and state legislative re-mapping process at a public hearing on April 16 in the Marengo Community High School auditorium. Area legislators and members of the Special House Committee on Redistricting were at the hearing, which was hosted by State Representative Jack D. Franks, State Representative Mike Tryon, and Senator Pam Althoff. According to a press release from the Illinois House of State Representatives, the hearing was, “One of at least 15 the Illinois House of Representatives will host in communities across the state to gather input on the 2011 mapmaking process,” and that, “Civic groups, community organizations, elected officials, minority groups, organizations serving seniors and the disabled, and many others [were] invited to offer input and suggestions on how legislative boundaries should be drawn.” “As a result of the 2010 Census, the target population of each house district is 108,734 people,” said Dan Frey, a staffer for the House Redistricting Committee. “Federal and state law requires that all districts be contiguous, which means that all parts of the districts much be next to each other, unless connected by water.” Frey said mapmakers will also follow the existing political and geographical boundaries to maximize a community’s opportunity to have its interest represented.
“A community of interest is a group of people concentrated in a geographic area where socially, culturally, ethnically, economically, [and] religiously, [they] will be joining the district to most effectively have their voices heard,” he said. Judy Szilak, President of the League of Women Voters of McHenry County, said the redistricting process should include: a formal, announced timetable; the availability of information and related data to all who wish to participate in the process; ample opportunities for expert testimony and public reaction and input into the proposed maps, etc. “The public should be allowed to see and comment on any new maps that are drawn by the Illinois General Assembly at least two weeks before they are voted on by the Senate and House during this session of the General Assembly,” Szilak said. “Additionally, the general assembly should give us as much rational as possible when describing the decision that resulted in the final districts [drawn].”
Janet Silosky, a Republican and Precinct Committeeman from the 28th Precinct in Plainfield Township, said citizens want to make sure the districts are drawn appropriately.
“It’s not so much as question as a statement as to how are we going to get this done in an effortful fashion,” Silosky said. “I want to know exactly [what] difference is our input going to have on this?”
Steve Polep, a Crystal Lake resident, said he lives on the edge of one district and is represented by a Lake County representative.
“I feel I’m underrepresented because the people that represent me represent a different population then I’m in,” Polep said. “I think that Cary and Crystal Lake should be in the same district.”
Ken Goodman, a Sycamore resident and teacher at Sycamore High School, said in the past decade, Sycamore has grown primarily to the north. Goodman said that as a result, about a fourth of fifth of the town is now represented by two different representatives.
“I think the whole city should be under one congressional representative,” he said. “I’d really like to see, when the boundaries are redrawn for the congressional district for Sycamore, that the entire city be under one district.”
Jim Carlin, an Algonquin resident, said he’s had active involvement in Sun City in Huntley. Carlin said Sun City is divided between representation with two senators and two representatives. He said he would like to urge that as a community of interest, there be single representation.
For more information on redistricting, go to www.ilhousedems.com/redistricting/.