Latest remapping proposal could give Aurora less Kane County Board representation

  • Myrna Molina

    Myrna Molina

 
 
Updated 9/8/2021 6:23 PM

There would be one fewer Aurora-based elected official on the Kane County Board under a district remapping proposal that uses 2020 census data for the first time. However, the county is on pace to have one-third of the board representing primarily Latino districts.

Aurora, Carpentersville and Elgin are at center stage for the county's remapping process as they contain the largest Latino populations. County officials want to avoid discrimination lawsuits by creating districts where Latino residents have a legitimate chance to elect a candidate of their preference.

 

The latest effort unveiled Tuesday showed eight county board seats in primarily Latino areas of the county. There are an additional three "influence" districts where Latino residents comprise 31% to 41% of the population.

Though the majority of the remapping committee expressed overall satisfaction with those Latino districts, several competing interests arose. At the top of the list was the loss of an Aurora-based seat coming as a consequence of what Aurora officials believe is an undercounting of some 18,000 residents.

Myrna Molina is one of eight county board members who represent Aurora. Her district will see its northern boundary go beyond Aurora for the first time. The county will still have 24 board seats, but Molina believes Aurora will effectively lose one seat through watered-down representation. She also fears the Latino population numbers being used don't reflect citizens in her district who are of voting age. The citizenship data isn't expected until sometime in 2022, long after the county is legally bound to approve a new map.

"We could either being doing the right thing or completely the opposite because we don't have those numbers," Molina said. "We're gambling right now, and I don't think we're gambling the right way."

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Another concern is that half the county board members haven't seen a draft of what the new districts could look like yet. County board Chair Corinne Pierog wants the board to approve the Latino districts first and use that as a basis to draw the remaining districts that don't face the same potential for discrimination lawsuits.

But shifting demographics in the census mean any changes in current boundaries caused by creating majority Latino districts may have significant ripple effects on the county board seats.

The county's overall population grew by only about 1,300 residents in the last decade, according to 2020 census data. But the white population declined by about 20,000 residents while the Latino population grew by about 10,000 residents. There are about 4,000 more Asian residents and about 1,500 fewer Black residents.

That may have an impact on county board members such as Ron Ford, who is the lone Black representative. County board members also pushed for changes that would limit municipalities, like Elgin, from being split among board members who also represent other communities.

Pierog wants to see the redistricting committee recommend a final draft map by the end of the month. That would allow for three community forums to allow public input on the map before the county board locked it in by the end of the year. The new maps will have a significant impact on representation on the county board for the next decade.

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