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Chicago City Council to pass new ward map by December 1

Chicago City Council

The Chicago City Council will have a new, redrawn map for all 50 wards by December 1, according to Mike Kasper, an attorney for the Rules Committee.

That may be the day of reckoning for some Black wards, which may be lost during the redrawn process to reflect the larger Latino population, whose Latino Caucus is demanding more representation on the City Council based on the latest 2020 Census figures. Asian Americans are eyeing the 11th Ward, based on their increased population in the city.

In July, a report in Crain’s Chicago Business said the city may lose at least three Black wards based on new Census figures. The report also said Lati- nos would gain two wards while the Asian community will gain three.

Among Black wards, there are concerns that the 16th and 20th Wards are most at risk because of a dramatic loss of Black residents in Englewood and West Englewood, which share both wards. The Sun-Times this week reported that Englewood’s population fell by more than 20 percent— dropping from 30,654 to 24,369 residents. West Englewood’s population fell from 35,505 in 2010 to 29,647 in 2020, a 16 percent drop, the newspaper reported.

The Chicago Black Caucus has reportedly hired cartographer Edward Sarpolus to protect and preserve the city’s 18 Black wards during the remapping process.

Kasper made the announcement on September 22. A former election law expert to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Kasper is steering the City Council’s Rules Committee through the redrawing process that aims to divide the city’s 2.7 million residents into 50 wards, each with a population of 54,923.

Kasper, in a recent article in the Sun-Times, said the redrawn wards can deviate from that population by 10 percent. It can be higher or lower than 54,923.

In that article, Kasper said, “that doesn’t mean that it’s OK. It doesn’t mean that it’s safe. It’s not a safe harbor that immunizes or protects the legality of the plan or prevents a lawsuit challenging it. It’s presumptively valid. But that presumption could be overcome by adequate proof,” Kasper added.

“On the other hand, a deviation band that exceeds 10 percent is presumptively invalid. But that, too, can be overcome. I’ve seen a case with a deviation as high as 16 percent that was upheld by the courts because there was a good explanation for it.”

According to the 2020 census, Hispanics surpassed Blacks as Chicago’s largest minority group. The Hispanic population increased by 5.2 percent, or 40,656 people, to 819,518.

Chicago’s African American population shrank by 9.74 percent, or 86,413 people — to 801,195.

The white population dropped by 226,578 people, or 18.68 percent, to 986,280.

Asian-Americans scored the largest gain — 30.86 percent, or 45,420 people, to stand at 192,586.

Kasper said Blacks and Hispanics are protected under the Voting Rights Act, but there are concerns that their population shifts may stir political and racial tensions among one another.

Far South Side Alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward) said he is “highly suspicious” of the Census figures that show 15 of the 27 Chicago wards that had the greatest drops in the population are predominantly Black.

Beale in the Sun-Times said in the 2010 Census, he “had 1,900 units that were empty because we were going through the Plan for Transformation at Altgeld Gardens. It’s disturbing to see how those units can come back online, and then I still have a great drop in population.

“I just can’t believe that certain communities have had that kind of drop in population. I just think the manpower was not put in the African-American community to go door-to-door. I would like to see the data that shows where resources were put and how people were counted.”

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