What would a Chicago redistricting process look like if it included community input? Well, as it currently stands, we wouldn’t know. That’s because the mandated remap process hasn’t traditionally included input from Chicagoans. Instead, the process has been exclusionary, occurring behind closed doors, and effectively splintering neighborhoods while gerrymandering wards to protect incumbent aldermen.
So what could the remap process look like if we encouraged participation from Chicagoans and imagined what an equitable process could look like with their involvement? What would happen if we provided Chicagoans with the information that would empower them to engage in this foundational civic process? We decided to ask Chicagoans what they wanted and what we learned from our community survey is that the overwhelming majority of those participating favor a community-centered ward drawing process.
Out of 260 survey respondents, 251, or 96 percent, either agreed or strongly agreed that the remap process must include input from people in Chicago’s communities.
Those who took the survey live in 39 of Chicago’s 50 wards.
Those who participated in the survey represent the diversity of Chicago:
- 58% of respondents identified as female
- 66% respondents were between the ages of 18-39
- 13% of respondents identified as African American/Black
- 19% of respondents identified as Latinx
- 47% of respondents identified as Caucasian
- 4% of respondents identified as East Asian
- 3% of respondents identified as South Asian or Southeast Asian
As Chicago prepares to embark on the next redrawing of its 50 wards based on new Census data, we must ensure that the process is inclusive of all of its nearly 3 million residents. That means drawing a new ward map should be done in a transparent way that starts with engaging with residents throughout the city. Chicagoans deserve an opportunity to actively and meaningfully participate in redrawing their ward boundaries. Ending ward gerrymandering and giving residents the ability to be heard and to have power over their communities’ map is essential.
Chicagoans deserve better. The time is now.
This work was done by former CHANGE Illinois Advocacy Director, Liliana Scales.