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For all inquiries, please contact:
Chaundra Van Dyk
Chicago Project Manager, Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission
Diverse Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission to launch ward map work with Chicagoans
CHICAGO–After accepting, reviewing and interviewing applications from a pool of 430 Chicagoans in an extensive process, the independent selection committee for the Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission has named thirteen Chicagoans to oversee the redrawing of a map of Chicago’s 50 wards. The commission reflects the geographic, racial and ethnic diversity that makes Chicago a world-class city.
The commission consists of seven men, five women, and one non-binary. Four are African American, three are Latinx, three are Asian American, and three are white. The commissioners come from all geographic regions of the city.
The Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission now will undergo extensive public training and lead an effort to meet with and hear from Chicagoans across the city this summer so that members can develop a map fueled on input from diverse Chicagoans. Five alternate commissioners also have been named in the event that any commissioners are unable to fulfill their obligations.
“The sheer number of applicants from every corner of Chicago shows that people throughout the city are eager to have a say in how their neighborhoods and ward boundaries are shaped,” said Chaundra Van Dyk, the Chicago Project Manager who organizes and supports the commission’s work.
Dr. Christina Rivers, an associate professor of political science at DePaul University and a member of the independent selection committee, said the commission members are “Chicagoans who represent a multiplicity of interests that span across race, ethnicity, religion, region, age, gender, and life experiences. We believe they will create a ward map that Imore fully reflects the richness of Chicagos’ wards and neighborhoods, including the variation of interests within those wards and neighborhoods.”
Selection committee member C.W. Chan, a retired entrepreneur and social service administrator, added, “I feel hope for Chicago — there are hundreds of thousands of people who come here just waiting for the opportunity to get involved and to better their community. Community input and engagement are absolutely vital. We need robust and ongoing engagement so that the loud voice of the people can be heard and amplified and can penetrate through the thick wall of City Hall.”
Selection committee member Roberto Valdez, senior external affairs liaison of the Latino Policy Forum, said, “We knew that an independent commission could truly advance equity in the city of Chicago. I’m very excited and I’m looking forward to the work this commission does to present a map that truly reflects the diversity of Chicago.”
Over the coming months, the commission will host a series of open, live-streamed hearings to gather input from residents to shape Chicago’s future. This will be a process that is guided by the input of Chicagoans to create a ward map for Chicagoans. The hearings, which will be a combination of virtual and in-person meetings, will be posted well in advance on chicagoswards.org and advertised in community media.
We also are asking diverse community partners to lend their expertise and community ties to help spread the word about the hearings to encourage input and involvement so that the commission can engage with Chicagoans in a meaningful way.
CHANGE Illinois and its community partners owe a huge debt of gratitude for many hours of thoughtful, painstaking work to all of the volunteer independent selection committee members: Rivers, Chan, Valdez Jr. and BUILD Chicago CEO Adam Alonso and to their adviser, University of Illinois-Chicago professor Dick Simpson, a former alderman.
The commission will begin training immediately and will be supported in its efforts by professional legal and demographic experts to ensure that federal and state voting rights acts are upheld and that communities of color have opportunities to elect candidates of their choice. The commission will work to ensure that the one person, one vote standard is upheld and that Chicagoans’ voices are centered in the development of the map.
Jowei Chen will provide mapping training and guidance to the commission. Chen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is also a Research Associate Professor at the Center for Political Studies of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan and a Research Associate at the Spatial Social Science Laboratory at Stanford University. He has served as an expert witness in fourteen redistricting court cases during the past decade. His academic research on legislative districting and political geography has been published or is forthcoming in several political science journals and law reviews, including the Yale Law Journal, the California Law Review, The American Journal of Political Science and The American Political Science Review.
The law firm Mayer Brown LLP will provide pro bono legal support for the commission’s work, including training and guidance on federal, state and local laws that govern the redistricting process and protect voting rights. The firm has represented parties and advocacy organizations in cases across the United States on redistricting and voting rights. The firm also represented proponents of the Illinois independent redistricting commission constitutional amendment.
The commission’s work will be grounded in transparency and will serve as a model statewide for how independent commissions should operate. Eventually, the commission will use 2020 census data, as required by state law, as well as community input to conduct its work.
This is an extraordinary opportunity for Chicagoans to engage in and participate in their democracy. They are encouraged to participate in the public hearings and submit their community-of-interest maps or ward proposals at chicagoswards.org. Free mapping resources are available for the public to use, including Representable.org, districtbuilder.org, DistrictR.org, and davesredistrictingapp.com.
After a series of training sessions over the next two weeks, the commission will kick off its hearings during its first virtual gathering at 7 p.m. June 22, 2021. A second hearing will be held at 2:30 p.m. June 26, 2021 at Chinese Christian Union Church’s Impact Center, 2301 S. Wentworth Ave., in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. That hearing will have both in-person and remote participation options available for residents.
Chicagoans are highly encouraged to engage with the commission at this and future hearings throughout the summer. It is expected that the commission will hold a few hearings each week throughout the summer months giving everyone in Chicago multiple opportunities to help shape a map for Chicago in a process that is community-led-and-driven.
The commissioners are as follows:
- North Side
- Rory Gilchrist
- Ahmed Khan
- Northwest Side
- Jonathan VanderBrug
- West Side
- Apriel Campbell
- Deborah Williams
- Debbie Liu
- Sravan Suryadevara
- Southwest Side
- Alejandro Espinoza Olazaba
- Chris Kanich
- Alyssa Rodriguez
- South Side
- Allen Linton II
- Lyzeth Mondragon
- Far South Side
- Mike Strode
“From expressing the need for better food options in their communities, to bringing awareness to the need for better health care options, to the importance of safety in their neighborhoods, these commissioners are real people who live with the realities of the conditions of their communities,” Van Dyk said. “They understand the importance of representation and restoring the power of the vote to communities across the city.”
CHANGE Illinois, is a nonpartisan nonprofit that educates residents, researches and advocates for ethical and efficient government. The CHANGE Illinois Action Fund is an affiliated 501(c)(4) nonprofit.