Democratic chair concedes politics played a role in congressional redistricting
SPRINGFIELD -- The latest draft of a new congressional district map for Illinois met with much of the same criticism as the first draft during a House committee hearing Tuesday.
The latest proposal from Democratic leaders was released Saturday. It divides the state into 17 districts, one fewer than the state currently has due to its population loss since the 2010 census.
"We need look no further than the concrete corridor that is the proposed 13th and the rural monoliths of the 12th and 15th to see that this is a gerrymandered map," Joel Funk, a resident of the Metro East area, said during virtual testimony before the House Redistricting Committee.
Under the proposed map, a new 13th District would be formed along a narrow strip stretching roughly 170 miles from East St. Louis to Champaign.
The 12th District, in southern Illinois, would be a combination of two existing districts because that area saw the most population loss. It would pit incumbent Republicans Mike Bost and Mary Miller against each other.
The proposed new 15th District would be an oddly shaped chunk of central Illinois that wraps around the proposed 13th District, starting with a portion of Collinsville in the Metro East area, stretching east to the Indiana border, wrapping around Champaign and stretching west again to the Mississippi River, from just north of Edwardsville to just south of the Quad Cities.
The proposal also calls for a new 16th District that would put incumbent Republicans Darin LaHood and Adam Kinzinger into the same district.
"This is the kind of map that convinces more Americans that their vote doesn't matter, and pushes to those that still bother to vote further apart into tribes unable to communicate with each other," Funk said.
William Sullivan, a resident of Chicago's Northwest Side, also criticized the maps, saying it divides neighborhoods in his area unnecessarily.
"It would really have to be called the incumbent retention map because the 5th and the 9th districts really have nothing in common," he said. "Neighborhoods are just strung together like spaghetti on the wall."
An analysis of the latest proposal by the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave the proposal a grade of F on all three categories that it measures: partisan fairness, competitiveness and geographic features. It said the maps would create a "significant Democratic advantage," that the proposed districts would be "very uncompetitive relative to other maps that could have been drawn," and that it creates non-compact districts that include "more county splits than typical."
During the hearing, Republican Rep. Tom Demmer, of Dixon, asked Democratic committee Chairwoman Lisa Hernandez, of Cicero, whether the maps were drawn to increase Democrats' advantage.
"I would say politics plays a part," Hernandez said.
The Senate Redistricting Committee is tentatively scheduled to hold a hearing on the maps Wednesday. But as of late Tuesday afternoon, no notice of a hearing had been posted on the General Assembly's website.