Editorial: Governor, when it comes to Fair Maps, democracy needs you
Given the other things on our minds, it is hard for any of us to turn our attention these days to Illinois' sorry practice of gerrymandering, and it feels particularly unfair to expect Gov. J.B Pritzker to place any of his attention on it.
Pritzker, even his critics would acknowledge, pursued an activist and ambitious agenda in his first year in office.
It was, it turns out, unfortunately just a precursor to the work ahead of him.
In recent weeks, Pritzker has grappled with the greatest challenge not just of his governorship, but of his lifetime. It is a challenge that will continue to occupy him for many days, weeks and months ahead: keeping the people of Illinois safe from the deadly pandemic that has spread around the globe.
It will be months, perhaps even years, before Pritzker's performance on this awesome challenge can be thoroughly assessed.
The most pointed assessment, of both Pritzker's response and that of all of us, will come daily in the fearful rolling COVID-19 numbers, and how well we in Illinois are able to restrain the tragedy and heartache in them.
The governor, we must say in our initial assessment, seems to be giving it his all, and we appreciate his vital leadership.
How can we ask him, in such a time, to sprinkle some of that leadership too on redistricting reform, on the Fair Maps initiative being promoted by CHANGE Illinois?
We ask because we, and the people of Illinois, have no option but to ask.
We have no luxury to say, put the remap reform on the back burner and get to it when less pressing matters compete for time and attention.
Reality is, if gerrymandering is to end in Illinois, Gov. Pritzker is one of the few people with the power and influence to make it happen.
And reality is, if it's going to happen, it has to happen now, in the next month.
If the General Assembly hasn't agreed by May 3 to put a referendum on the November ballot asking for a Constitutional amendment to take district mapping out of the hands of the politicians, well, it won't happen.
At least not in time to stop legislative and Congressional maps from being tailored for party interests throughout the 2020s.
Maybe by 2030, we as a state could get around to it, but that would mean one more decade of cynical party control of elections that are supposed to be decided by the people.
We believe Pritzker is a good man who wants to leave a legacy of good works completed under his stewardship. Certainly, protecting the people from COVID-19 is a vital one of those good works.
But restoring democracy is, too.
Governor, we the people need you on both of these urgent matters. Governor, please help.