Speaking in front of an overflowing crowd, 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith was clear and unequivocal, Lincoln Park must be protected and kept whole in any new redistricting map. Smith made her comments in front of a very friendly audience at DePaul University, currently in the 43rd Ward. It was the first of a series of town hall events to debate a number of competing maps submitted as part of the redistricting process. Smith was one of more than twenty Alderman that participated in the event. While a number of Wards were represented, it was clear that the theme of this evening was of keeping Lincoln Park whole.
(Alderman Dick Mell outlining the redistricting process so far)
Smith said the so called "Map for a Better Chicago" would not only split up Lincoln Park into five wards but it faced the real possibility of being challenged in court. That's because, Smith, said, deviations in populations from ward to ward make it vulnerable to violating the one person one vote principal. That principal means each of Chicago's 50 wards must have near equal sizes of population. Smith threw her support behind the Tax Payer protection map, which would keep the 43rd largely as it looks today. Smith said the population deviations in that map are quite small. The Tax Payer Protection Map is being sponsored by Hispanic Caucus. Danny Solis, Alderman in 25 and leader of the Hispanic Caucus, was one of the Aldermen in attendance.
Smith received a great deal of support for her position from the audience. Daniel Varanauski, the President of the Wrightwood Neighbors Association, echoed the thoughts of Smith.
"New ward boundaries could tear communities apart all for old style Chicago politics," he said. Varanauski continued, "Under the so called 'Map for a Better Chicago' Lincoln Park would be split into the 43rd, 44th, 32nd, 27th, and 2nd."
Another resident explained what keeping Lincoln Park together means, "Lincoln Park is a community in the truest sense, it is always been recognized as such in the political life of this city. It is a place where people come together, just ordinary, to give up their time and effort, to make this the most livable neighborhood in the most livable city in the world."
A group of former 43rd Ward Alderman also spoke. Phil Singer, Alderman from 1969-1975, said, "All of us are here because of our extreme concern of the preservation of the Lincoln Park community as one ward." Singer continued, "this ward should not be sacrificed on the matter of political expedience."
Supporters of keeping Lincoln Park in tact pointed out its exact geographical borders, its history of economic and social leadership, and a 43rd Ward that has largely stayed looking the same in previous maps.
Alderman Dick Mell also made some news at the town hall when he announced that two maps were submitted just before the filing dead line, though they weren't yet available for viewing. The first map, said Mell, was submitted by an individual named Percy Ross while the second map was submitted by a, "Pro Bono thinking society." This will make five competing maps as part of the redistricting process.
(One of several speeches made by residents in favor of keeping Lincoln Park as one ward)