Lake County panel greenlights new district boundaries

Despite some objections, a Lake County Board committee Tuesday approved new district boundaries for the next decade.

Democratic board members Audrey Nixon of North Chicago and Melinda Bush of Grayslake both criticized the proposed map, which drops the number of board districts from 23 to 21. The new boundaries will pit both women against other sitting board members if they opt to run for re-election in 2012.

Nixon would face fellow Democrat Angelo Kyle of Waukegan in the new 14th District, while Bush would have to run against Democrat Pat Carey of Grayslake in the new 6th District.

The proposed map doesn’t double up any incumbent Republicans, who have a slim majority control of the board. That fact wasn’t lost on Bush.

“We are decreasing Democratic districts,” she said during the reapportionment committee’s meeting in Waukegan. “That is really what’s going on here.”

Nixon said she was shocked that she and Kyle — the board’s two most-senior members — are being put into the same district. She criticized committee leader Diana O’Kelly, a Mundelein Republican, and other board officials for not telling her earlier about the boundaries.

It’s now up to the full board to approve the map. That vote could come June 14.

Before then, the entire board will meet Friday as a committee of the whole to review the proposal.

The map, which was publicly unveiled last week on the county website, 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 must be redrawn. The reapportionment committee’s April decision to cut the number of districts further impacted the map.

During Tuesday’s meeting, O’Kelly led the committee and a large audience through a review of each proposed district’s boundaries, as well as the towns and population of each.

After she was done, none of the committee members — five Republicans and two Democrats — shared any comments or opinions.

In addition to Nixon and Bush, Lake Forest resident Mary Mathews — a representative of the Lake County League of Women Voters — spoke out against the proposal. She said the proposal was political and criticized the proposed boundaries for some of the districts on the county’s east side.

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