Redistricting described as reaching criminal level in Illinois
Mickey Straub says gerrymandering in Illinois has crossed a line.
“It’s a crime,” the Burr Ridge mayor, who recently launched his campaign to unseat Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) in the 82nd District, told the Will County Gazette. “There’s no reason these districts should be so convoluted.”
Straub is hardly alone in his thinking.
A bipartisan coalition of 65 lawmakers in eight states has pushed an effort to curtail gerrymandering on a national level by backing an amicus curiae brief in the Gill v. Whitford case in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Reps. Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley), Scott Drury (D-Highwood), Michael Fortner (R-West Chicago), Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) and David Olsen (R-Downers Grove) have joined Sens. Michael Connelly (R-Naperville), Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), William Brady (R-Bloomington), Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst), Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), Sue Rezin (R-Morris), Heather Steans (D-Chicago), Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) and Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria), in signing the writ.
Political gerrymandering is defined as the act of drawing up legislative districts for partisan advantage. The Wisconsin case involves a redistricting dispute in which a U.S. district court found that the state violated certain protections provided by the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The other states involved in the action are Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Maryland.
“A fair map would look more like what the U.S. actually looks like,” Straub said. “Some blocks would be larger than others, and some areas would be more populated than others. Districts should be shaped to look like squares and rectangles. Right now, what we have are long, narrow swords twisting together from all sorts of angles.”
With Democrats in power across much of the state, Straub said the motivation for continuing such districting is obvious.
“It’s all about maintaining power and self-preservation,” he said. “Democrats have long been more concerned about power than people. I recently asked one legislator approaching his sixth term in office what still motivates him, and all he could come up with was that it’s hard to give up the title he holds.”
Straub pointed to House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Cicago) and his nearly half-century in power as a classic example of that way of thinking. Politico Illinois Playbook reported that Madigan has declared his plans to remain in office beyond 2020, when another redistricting is scheduled.
“So many politicians are also attorneys, meaning many of them have conflict of interests that create other problems no one really talks about,” Straub said. “No one should be able to use their political position to make money on a personal level.”
The 82nd District covers parts of Cook, DuPage and Will counties, including Darien, Homer Glen, Lemont and Willowbrook.