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updated: 6/14/2011 2:29 PM

Lake Co. board OKs new district boundaries, reduces membership

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Overcoming objections from some Democrats, the Lake County Board on Tuesday approved new district boundaries and reduced its membership to 21.

The changes, approved by a bipartisan 16-7 vote, will be effective after the November 2012 election.

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Most of the objections -- from commissioners and audience members who spoke on the issue -- concerned the effort to combine four incumbent Democrats into two districts.

Board members Audrey Nixon of North Chicago and Angelo Kyle of Waukegan will find themselves in the new 14th District. Likewise, board members Melinda Bush and Pat Carey, both of Grayslake, will be in the new 6th District.

The moves will force the board members to run against each other if they seek re-election in 2012.

The proposed map doesn't double up any incumbent Republicans, who have a slim majority control of the board.

That didn't sit well with Mary Mathews, a representative of the League of Women Voters of Lake County.

She complained about a lack of transparency and accused the Republicans of gerrymandering the boundaries to benefit the GOP.

"They based the map on politics and used Springfield's playbook," Mathews said, referring to the legislative maps recently drawn up by the General Assembly's Democratic majority.

Nixon was among the board members who spoke against the map. She called it "totally ridiculous."

Deerfield Democrat Michelle Feldman complained about how her hometown will be split into multiple districts. She accused the Republicans of drawing those boundaries as revenge for her speaking out about a land issue involving a former GOP commissioner.

Not all of the board's Democrats voted against the plan. Mary Ross Cunningham, Bill Durkin and Diane Hewitt joined all 13 Republicans in approving the map.

The map, which can be found online at lakecountyil.gov, is based on the population figures revealed by the 2010 census. According to that survey, the county's population grew more than 9 percent to 703,462 residents.

Some of the county board districts' populations grew dramatically, while others lost residents. By law, all of the county's districts must have the same number of residents, 33,498.

As a result, the districts legally must be redrawn. Additionally, the board committee in charge of the new map decided in April to reduce the number of districts from 23.

The county board doubles as the Lake County Forest Preserve District board. The new boundaries apply to that agency as well.

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