Last Tuesday’s Consolidated Election saw quite a few incumbent mayors, village presidents, and township officials go down to defeat in contested elections.
Voters had had enough.
They were ready for change.
But, what if city councils, village boards, and township boards had the authority to approve an ordinance that protected those incumbents from losing?
What if an ordinance could be written and approved to protect one party or faction at the expense of other parties or factions?
Would that be fair to all candidates?
Would that be fair to the public?
Of course not.
However, after the census is taken every 10 years, the Illinois General Assembly has that power.
It’s called redistricting. It’s a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor that establishes new boundaries for state House and Senate districts and also congressional districts.
Politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, have abused that power because the Illinois Constitution permits it, and they simply can’t resist.
Democrats controlled the process in 2011. They approved maps that maximized their party’s chances of victory. The results brought more Democrats to the Legislature and Illinois’ congressional delegation, but less accountability at the ballot box, less responsiveness to the public, and less incentive to work across the aisle to solve problems.
Other states have wisely reduced the influence of politics in the redistricting process while still complying with the Voting Rights Act. In 2 weeks, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute will examine how Illinoisans might learn from those states.
The Simon Institute plans a public seminar from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. April 30 in Springfield titled “Who holds the crayons? How other states draw legislative district lines.”
Speakers from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Minnesota State Senate, California Citizens Redistricting Commission, Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Iowa Public Interest Institute, Bradley University, University of Illinois, and Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) will shed light on redistricting, here and in other states.
Could those ideas work in Illinois?
The Simon Institute, based at SIU-Carbondale, will not endorse any particular plan, but its director, David Yepsen, believes the state’s current redistricting system contributes to Illinois leaders’ inability to solve “some of the biggest financial problems faced by any state in the country.”
The symposium should attract people who are interested in accountability, fairness, and responsive government.
It will take place at the Inn at 835, 835 S. Second St., Springfield. To register, contact Carol Greenlee, Simon Institute project coordinator, at 618-453-4078, or register online at illinoisredistricting.eventbrite.com. There is no charge to attend.
For a symposium schedule, go to www.paulsimoninstitute.org.
Greenlee said 50 to 60 people have already signed up. The venue will hold about 200.
We praise Yepsen and the Simon Institute for organizing the seminar.
We salute the Joyce and McCormick foundations for their financial support.
We encourage local residents to consider attending.
We agree with Yepsen’s comment, “Now is the perfect time to examine redistricting because we can see how the systems worked in those states in 2012.”
If voters want change, no one should be able to stop them.
That already applies to cities, villages and townships.
That also should apply to the Illinois House, Illinois Senate and U.S. House.