Republicans await remap ruling

Republicans await remap ruling

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

The Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission was expected to vote Tuesday on a legislative redistricting proposal from Rep. Michael Madigan of Chicago, the Democratic leader in the state Legislature.

The commission has the power and authority to accept or reject the Democratic map. “We’re waiting to see how that goes,” said Sen. Brad Burzynski, one of three local Republican state senators and representatives.

Meantime, two lawsuits are pending before U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard. One of the actions challenges the selection of a ninth commission member, according to Burzynski. He said there could be additional legal challenges as well.

Burzynski said 15 GOP senators in the state would be crowded into seven districts. “What we are screaming is unfairness,” he said. Burzynski said it could be a couple of weeks or even longer before the issue is resolved.

“We’re hoping the feds will say: ‘Be reasonable. Draw a map that doesn’t split communities,’” said Sen. Dave Syverson. “This (the map) probably enhances the chances the court might look more favorably at this. It so dramatically gerrymanders this district. Splitting the city hurts Rockford residents. The population base will be in DeKalb. The priority and programs will be spent in DeKalb,” he said.

A spokesman for Congressman Don Manzullo said the congressman has not seen the proposed map. “I don’t think it will do anything to him,” said Rich Carter, “but it will be bad for Rockford. They’re taking two senators and shifting them out of the city.”

Carter said he doesn’t anticipate such a redistricting would make it harder to get funds at the federal level, but he noted that many federal dollars are distributed through the state, and that certainly would be affected.

Asked if that would be the case, Syverson

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replied: “I think so. What you end up with is literally no seniority. Every current elected official in Winnebago County is sent out of the area. We would have no elected official based in Rockford except Chuck Jefferson.”

Syverson said if this plan prevails, Madigan will control both houses of the Legislature, and even more of the state budget will be allocated to Chicago than is already the case.

Madigan and Mayor Doug Scott are good friends. Madigan conducted fundraisers for Scott’s campaign for mayor. Whether Scott will take advantage of that friendship to benefit Rockford is unclear.

Madigan’s map creates a new district for Loves Park, Machesney Park and the northern part of Rockford. It would put Sen. Syverson into a district taking in DeKalb County, Boone County and eastern Ogle and Lee counties, plus east Rockford.

Sen. Brad Burzynski would be shifted into a district in Kane County, home district of Sen. Steve Rauschenberger-R, Elgin. His present district includes parts of Rockford, western Winnebago County, DeKalb County and portions of Ogle and Lee counties.

Shirland Republican, Rep. Dave Winters, would virtually disappear from his home territory. Winters stands to lose representation of Loves Park, northwest Rockford, Machesney Park and western Winnebago County.

His new district would include western Winnebago County, Stephenson County and parts of Jo Daviess, Ogle, Carroll and Whiteside counties.

The district of newly appointed Rep. Chuck Jefferson, Rockford Democrat, would be undisturbed. In fact, it would be strengthened by the addition of more territory in southeast Rockford.

If the new map survives judicial scrutiny it will take effect with the next election next year.

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