Kane County wants public input on redrawing board districts
Kane County residents will have five chances to give input to elected officials on a once-per-decade decision that will affect the way their county taxes are spent and who represents them on the county board for the next 10 years.
County board members must redraw the boundaries of all the board districts to reflect the county's population changes since 2010. Continued growth and development on the west end of the county has resulted in about 70% of the 24 board seats falling out of conformity with state laws about how many people should, on average, be represented by each member.
For instance, the latest population estimates show some districts have barely 21,000 residents, while others have more than 30,000. A population difference of more than 10% among the districts of an elected board has been ruled discriminatory in various court decisions.
When the county board redrew boundaries 10 years ago, it shrank the size of the board by two seats, increased the number of people represented in each district and pushed each district boundary a bit west.
Redistricting decisions often turn partisan as boundaries play a large role in the number of Democrats or Republicans registered to vote in each district -- making it easier or more difficult for one party or the other to see one of its members elected depending on where the dividing lines are placed.
County officials must also take into account district demographics to assure they do not draw voting boundaries that leave minority groups with less political representation than they have a right to.
The current deadline to redraw the districts is July 13, but the county will seek to push that deadline to Oct. 1 to allow for the full 2020 census data to be used.
County board members may also consider slashing the number of board seats or separating the county board from the Kane County Forest Preserve Commission. Pay raises for all county elected officials are also on the table.
Residents can provide the county board with feedback about all those issues at five public forums. The forums are scheduled for:
• 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, at The Prisco Center, 150 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora.
• 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at the Elburn Lions Club, 500 Filmore St., Elburn.
• 6 p.m. Thursday, May 27, at the Adult Activities Center, 665 Barrington Ave., Carpentersville.
• 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 2, at the Kane County Government Center, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva. (This session will be conducted via Zoom and in-person. Zoom login information will be posted on the Kane County website before the event.)
• 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, at Hampshire High School, 1600 Big Timber Road, Hampshire.
All the forums will be livestreamed on the county's YouTube channel.
"The quality of your representation -- the policies that the government enacts -- is affected by district boundaries," Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog said in a news release Tuesday. "We want the residents of Kane County to participate in helping draw those lines."