The Crusader Newspaper Group

Ald. Harris to file Chicago Black Caucus ward map as referendum

After months of fruitless negotiations, Rules and Committee Chairman Michelle Harris (8th) reportedly plans to file a petition with the City Clerk’s office to get a referendum of the Chicago Black Caucus’ version of a new Chicago map on the ballot for the June 28 Primary.

The move starts the clock for the Black and Latino Caucus to agree on a new redrawn map. Both Caucuses remain at an impasse with separate versions of a new map, and neither group has enough votes for City Council approval.

If a new map is not passed by May 19, the maps will go before voters as a referendum in the June 28 Primary.

The one Harris plans to officially petition for referendum is from the Chicago Black Caucus. That proposal has 17 Black wards and 14 Latino wards. For months Harris and other Black aldermen have tried but failed to get the required 41 votes for City Council approval. Approximately 33 aldermen support the Black Caucus’ map, but the group is still short by eight votes.

The map by the Latino Caucus shrinks the number of Black wards to 16 while increasing the city’s wards from 13 to 15 based on the 2020 Census count. Last December, 15 aldermen filed their own petition for a referendum for the June 28 Primary after falling far short of the votes needed for City Council approval.

Latino aldermen insist that they deserve no less than 15 wards and Black aldermen have not budged on reducing below 17.

The City Council by law was supposed to have a new redrawn map by December 1, but contentious negotiations between the two Caucuses have not produced a compromised map of the city’s 50 wards.

Harris from the beginning vowed to protect the city’s Black wards, drawing criticism by Latinos of taking sides as chair of the Rules Committee.

The Latino Caucus accuses the Chicago Black Caucus of robbing them of fair representation on the City Council based on the 2020 Census count.

Black aldermen in January said their version is based on the voting-age population of Black and Latino residents. They argue that the city’s Latino voting-age population is not big enough to elect more Latino aldermen on the City Council.

Latino aldermen disagree and said state law requires the Council to remap the city’s wards based on the 2020 Census.

According to the 2020 Census, Latinos passed Blacks as Chicago’s largest minority. The Hispanic population increased by 5.2 percent, or 40,656 people, to 819,518. The city’s Black population dropped by 86,413 people to 801,195.

The white population increased by 8,905, for a total of 863,622 residents. The Asian American population saw the largest growth by 45,420 people for a total of 192,586 people.

Both maps from the Black and Latino Caucuses proposed to make the 11th Ward a predominately Asian ward. It was once headed by Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson, who was forced to resign last month.

Thompson was convicted of five counts of filing a false income tax return, and two counts of false statements to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. regarding $219,000 in loans and other payments he received from Washington Federal Bank For Savings. On Tuesday, March 15, Thompson’s attorneys asked for new trial, saying the first one was “littered with innuendos.”

Thompson will be sentenced July 6. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has until April 15 to appoint someone to fill the vacant 11th Ward seat on the City Council. A total of 27 people have applied to fill the seat.

Lightfoot’s office has posted each applicant’s name and resume on the city’s website as a committee reviews the applications before presenting the mayor with a list of finalists.

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