County Holding Public Hearing on New District Boundaries Tonight
Plans are being considered that would change the current nine-district boundaries or increase the number of districts to 13.
The public is invited to share input on redistricting plans that could affect local representation at the county board level.
At 6 p.m. tonight, there is a public hearing at the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., on the second floor. Residents will be able to give feedback on two proposed plans, one that would change the current nine-district boundaries and another that would increase the number of districts to 13.
Once every 10 years using U.S. Census data, the Will County Board must redraw the county’s district map so that each district serves the same number of residents. The county grew more than any other in the state, with a 35 percent bump, between the 2000 and 2010 Census counts.
So the County Board is considering two main plans: redraw the current nine districts with three members representing each, or drawing 13 districts that would each have two representatives. Keeping nine and redrawing the current boundaries, at least based off plans reviewed Wednesday, would split New Lenox between two districts but move all of Frankfort into one.
"I would like to see old boundaries in New Lenox and Frankfort maintained," said Tom Weigel (R-New Lenox). "I would be moved out of the district I've had for six years."
The board will continue to hold public hearings for interested residents and to review more plans. The hearings are mandatory under the 2011 Illinois Voting Rights Act and Public Participation and Transparency Act. Although redistricting is necessary, it's often involved political ploys that have manipulated voters, in many cases minority groups.
Ed Kusta (R-Bolingbrook) said he wants to see the map that would draw 13 districts. He was concerned with the size of some districts, especially the first, which would stretch 32 miles on the south end of Will County.
"I understand population was a factor, but that's just sheer madness."
County Executive Larry Walsh, who has previously said he wouldn't want to increase the number of districts, presented the board with his plan for redrawing district lines.
"If this is what we have to do, then this is what we have to do," Laurie Smith (R-New Lenox) said of the nine-district plan. "But I'd like to see options."
Committee Chairman Don Gould (R-Shorewood) said this plan was better for the Lincoln-Way area than it is now, which currently splits Frankfort between the first and second districts.
New Lenox is currently split between the second and sixth districts, though only up near Laraway Road; this would extend the second district to Route 30 in New Lenox. Each district must have about 74,000 population, another reason for the changes.
"It's impossible to keep the two townships (Frankfort and New Lenox) together because that's a combined population of 98,000," Gould said. "This would keep things together more than they are currently."
To Learn More: See the PDFs attached to this article to view the nine- and 13-district plans, or go to the County Board's website for more information. See below for the proposed district populations if the nine-district plan was adopted.
|1. South/East Will County||74,554||6.39||19.96||0.86||71.96|
|6. Villages Bordering Joliet||74,753||8.34||2.63||1.24||87.19|
|7. Homer/Lockport/Crest Hill||74,446||9.44||4.05||2.18||83.8|
|8. Joliet South and East||74,929||37.86||28.75||0.79||31.93|
|9. Joliet West||74,857||20.43||7.52||2.89||68.43|