Lake County Board proposes new district boundaries

  • Lake County Board member Pat Carey

    Lake County Board member Pat Carey

  • Lake County Board member Melinda Bush

    Lake County Board member Melinda Bush

  • Lake County Board member Angelo Kyle

    Lake County Board member Angelo Kyle

  • Lake County Board member Audrey Nixon

    Lake County Board member Audrey Nixon

 
 
Updated 6/3/2011 1:44 PM

The Lake County Board has released a proposed map that redraws its districts based on 2010 census figures.

It also calls for two fewer districts, based on a recommendation from the committee studying the issue in recent months.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Because of population changes and the proposed reduction in board size, some sitting commissioners will find themselves living in the same districts as other members.

That's the case for Grayslake Democrats Pat Carey and Melinda Bush, who live a few blocks from each other in what is proposed to be the new 6th District. Bush represents the 6th District now, while Carey serves the 11th District.

"We knew this might happen," Carey said. "That's life in government and politics."

Also set to double up are the board's longest-serving members, North Chicago Democrat Audrey Nixon and Waukegan Democrat Angelo Kyle.

Both will find themselves in the 14th District, which Nixon now represents, if the proposed map is approved. Kyle, who represents the 12th District, said he was stunned by the proposed boundaries.

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"We did not expect it, not in the least," Kyle said.

The Republican Party maintains majority control of the board, and no Republicans will find themselves doubled up if the map is approved. Even so, County board Chairman David Stolman called it "a very fair map."

"If we wanted to be political, we could've carved it up and put three people in one district," said Stolman, a Buffalo Grove Republican.

The map and supporting documents can be viewed at Lake County's official website, lakecountyil.gov.

The districts are changing because the county's population grew more than 9 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 644,356 people to 703,462.

County board members also serve as Lake County Forest Preserve District board members, and the district boundaries are the same for both agencies.

Under the law, the board's districts each must have exactly the same population, based on the most recent census figures. The target per-district population was 33,498.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Four districts deviate from that figure by one person because the county's population isn't evenly divisible by 21, said Mundelein Republican Diana O'Kelly, who led the reapportionment committee.

To hit the target, some districts had to shrink while others grew.

District 5, which is on the west side of the county and includes Volo, Fox Lake and other nearby towns, was among those forced to shrink. So did District 16, which is in the Round Lake area.

District 9, which serves part of Waukegan, will grow under the proposed map. So will District 20 in the Buffalo Grove area, among others.

Committee members and the demographer they worked with tried to avoid fracturing towns into multiple districts, O'Kelly said.

"We did the least amount of damage that we had to," she said. "Equal means equal."

Carey isn't happy about her home being moved from the 11th District to the 6th District, but she admits the boundaries are appropriate for residents.

"It's unfortunate that it happened, but I can't say that it's not a good district," Carey said.

Carey said she and Bush will discuss their political futures. One of them won't run in 2012, rather than facing off in a Democratic primary, Carey said.

Kyle said he and Nixon have discussed their situation and hope to change it.

"We're going to exhaust whatever avenues we have," he said.

Whereas most of the districts' borders simply are changing, some are moving to entirely different geographical areas.

For example, a portion of southeast Lake County that had been the 23rd District now will be called the 11th. Likewise, the 12th District is moving south from Waukegan to the Lake Forest area.

People shouldn't worry about the district numbers changing, O'Kelly said.

"It's just a number," she said.

Stolman believes the redistricting effort won't result in the lawsuits that plagued the last redistricting in 2001. That summer, two groups sued the county, saying a proposed map reduced the potential political voice of Hispanic residents in the Waukegan area.

The 2001 map eventually was redrawn to address those concerns.

Representatives from some area minority groups reviewed the latest plans this week, Stolman said. No one voiced concerns, he said.

The county has had 23 district since 1992. It slimmed down that year from 24, also during a redistricting effort.

The county's reapportionment committee will review the proposed map at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, at the county government center in Waukegan.

The full board could vote on the map June 14.