A unified group of African-American aldermen made their opening offer Monday in Chicago’s redistricting debate: one less majority black ward and two more majority Latino wards.
The deal was politically easy for the City Council’s Black Caucus to propose.
Under the plan, the 19 black aldermen would keep the African-American majorities that helped elect them. The two new Latino districts already are represented by white aldermen who were elected with a large share of Hispanic votes. And the map would not pit any sitting aldermen against each other in the 2015 elections.
“It’s a starting point,” Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st, chairman of the caucus, said of a map the group proposed at a City Hall news conference. “The entire caucus agrees on what we presented today, which we voted on.”
Black alderman are trying to maintain their strength even though census numbers show that the number of African-American residents in Chicago declined by about 181,000 between 2000 and 2010.
The group would give up the 2nd Ward, which had an African-American majority a decade ago. But that ward, now represented by a white alderman, already lost its black majority amid demographic shifts caused by a housing boom in the West Loop and South Loop.
Even without new boundaries, whites, Asians and Latinos far outnumber blacks in the 2nd Ward, which is now represented by Ald. Robert Fioretti. Meanwhile, some of the existing black population in the 2nd Ward would be shifted to into Ald. Walter Burnett’s 27th, which lost its onetime black majority.
The 10th Ward on the far Southeast Side and the 23rd Ward on the Southwest side would have Latino majorities under the Black Caucus proposal.
Because of demographic changes during the past decade, Ald. John Pope’s 10th Ward already has a significant Latino majority, and the 23rd represented by Ald. Michael Zalewski is getting close.
Ald. Daniel Solis, 25th, chairman of the Latino Caucus, said his group will wait until it gets community input at two upcoming public forums before sitting down to review the African-American proposal and come up with one of its own. But Solis did say the Black Caucus proposal falls short.
“We’re at least 29 percent of the city, almost a third, and that’s more than the 13 wards they presented,” Solis said.
Chicago’s Latino population grew by about 25,000 in the past decade as the white and black populations declined, census data shows.
Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 22nd, reiterated his view that Latinos are significantly under-represented on the council. “If Latinos are a third of the city, why are we one fifth of the City Council?” he asked in response to the release of the Black Caucus proposed map.
The council has eight Latino aldermen and three old-guard white politicians who represent wards with strong Latino majorities.
Solis, meanwhile, announced that the Latino group would hold its first public hearing at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at North-Grand High School, 4338 W. Wabansia Ave.
Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, who as chairman of the Rules Committee is overseeing the remap process, did not have an immediate response to the proposal on Monday.