After months of political wrangling between African American and Hispanic aldermen over which ward remap would prevail, the Chicago City Council on Monday (May 16) approved the Chicago United Map by a vote of 43-7, avoiding a battle at the ballot box on primary election day, June 28.
“The map we presented was passed at our meeting 43-7. Basically, some members of the Latino Caucus decided to look at their maps and made some adjustments,” City Council Black Caucus Chairman Alderman Jason Ervin (28th) told the Chicago Crusader.
“There were eight members of that group who decided to come in, work out the differences that they had between the maps and ultimately supported the map that was being supported by over 70 percent of the members of the Council,” Ervin said.
“I think this is a clear win for the city as well as for the Black community. On other situations, we were looking at the loss of up to four wards. Right now, that change has been reduced to one as we had already proposed,” Ervin explained.
“It works out very well for the Black community, and it also recognizes the growth of the Latino and Asian communities in the (remap) presentation that was done.
“Overall, I think this is the best scenario, the best outcome that we as the African American community could hope for as well as the city of Chicago,” he said.
“No one wants to spend a bunch of money unnecessarily when we have lots of challenges to deal with in our city. This is the best outcome for all concerned.”
Asked about the bruised feelings between members of the Latino and Black Caucuses, Ervin said, “We are going to continue to work together. I think there are bruised feelings by some individuals who decided to not work with their colleagues. They have some issues of their own to deal with, but I don’t believe there are bruised feelings from the process.
“We all understand that as a democratic process sometimes you have to make some adjustments in order to get the ball over the finish line. I think that is what happened here,” Ervin stated.
When the political dust settled Ervin said, “We maintain 17 pretty much solid (Black) wards.” The plurality Black 27th Ward is headed by Alderman Walter Burnett. There are 14 Latino Wards, which is one less than they had wanted.”
Facing a May 19 deadline before the remap initiative would have become a referendum battle on June 28, Ervin disputed claims that the prevailing Chicago United Map was a result of a “backroom deal.”
“There was no backroom deal,” Ervin told the Chicago Crusader. “The members of the Black Caucus held our same position for the last several months about the wards as we laid them out….”
The opposing aldermen “decided to settle some differences amongst themselves” he said.
“Everybody was able to come together under the leadership of the City Council Rules Committee Chairman, Alderman Michelle Harris (8th) and bring something to the table that the law requires us to bring and have at least 41 aldermen sign off on,” said Ervin.
“The wards as we laid them out are pretty much intact with the overall wards represented by the Black community,” Ervin said. “Overall, I think it is very positive for the Black community, and we are glad that all of us were able to stick together, stick to our guns and protect the interests of Chicago.”
Agreeing was Alderman George Cardenas (12th) who told reporters having voters decide between a Black and a Hispanic map “would not have been good for anybody.” He said the compromise was the best thing to do.
When asked about Alderman Anthony Beale (9th) who accused the Black Caucus of kicking him out of their remap negotiations, Ervin said, “Our arms are open to the alderman. I think it’s up to him if he chooses to engage with the members of the (Black) Caucus.
“One map would have put us as low as 14 wards and the other would have put us with 15 wards with the potential of even more losses in the future,” Ervin said referring to the upcoming 2030 Census battle.
When asked what is the next step Ervin said the City Council Black Caucus’ next project is to register people to vote and to push for a huge turnout on June 28.
However, Ervin said there is yet one more ballot issue, and that is educating the community about the proper selection of judges.
“These judges have a lot of power and control over many people’s daily living,” Ervin said. “We want to make sure that we are electing quality judges that represent our interests, represent our fears and understand our needs including the sub-circuits.”
“We as aldermen and ward committeemen have a responsibility to do some research, get some understanding and then present individuals we think would benefit our community, to the voters. I do that every election to make sure we put the best people who will represent our interests and not work against the interest of the Black community,” said Ervin.
“After coming out of this process, we have to continue to stay and work together on this issue,” he said.
“There is strength in unity. Our divided house cannot stand. It is our goal to continue to work together, to work for the benefit for the Black community and move forward.”