Illinois Latino Agenda Holds Redistricting Hearing

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Illinois Latino Agenda, a collaboration of 49 Latino-serving organizations, holds press conference Monday to reveal their proposal in the redistricting process. The Agenda proposal includes 16 Latino House districts, four Senate districts, and more transparency for voters.

Strength in numbers seems to be the mantra for the members of the Illinois Latino Agenda as they appeared at Casa Michoacán for a press conference on Monday imploring legislators to become part of the redistricting process. More than 40 Latino-serving organizations, which makeup the Illinois Latino Agenda, revealed their redistricting proposal outlining 16 Latino House districts and four Latino Senate districts, along with transparency for voters to participate in the hearings. “The interests of Illinois Latinos are increasingly the interests of all Illinoisans; a transparent, inclusive redistricting process that makes considerations for a representative Latino voice in Springfield is an important step in ensuring all Illinoisans can work together towards a bright shared future,” said Agenda Member Raul Raymundo, CEO of The Resurrection Project.

As legislators across the state continue in their redistricting efforts, members of the Illinois Latino Agenda asked that ‘self-interest’ be set aside to focus more keenly on a map that befits a growing Hispanic population. “If Illinois’ two million-plus Latinos were proportionately represented, there would be 28 Latino-elected leaders in Springfield. There are just 12 such leaders today. The disparity is troubling, given that Latinos are the second-largest racial/ethnic group in the state,” said Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum and Agenda co-convener. During the press conference the Illinois Latino Agenda proposed Agenda maps that include 13 Latino-majority House districts, with the Latino community accounting for more than 50 percent of the population. Nine of these proposed districts—three on Chicago’s North Side, five on Chicago’s South Side, and one in suburban Aurora—have at least a 65 percent Latino population, according to data revealed by the Census.

“History and legal precedent have shown us that 65 percent is the minimum threshold for political effectiveness in the Latino community,” said Agenda Member Michael Rodriguez, executive director of ENLACE Chicago. “Latino political clout is tempered by the youth of our community—nearly 40 percent is under the voting age of 18—and the portion of non-citizens.”

Throughout the month of April legislators held public hearings in Cicero, Rockford, Waukegan, and Springfield in compliance with the Voting Rights Acts, passed earlier this year, to promote an open process and inclusive in the re-drawing process. Every ten years, immediately after the Census, district boundaries are re-drawn to allow a fair advantage for voters, candidates, and political parties. Redistricting does not affect the number of legislators per district or state, but how the boundary lines are divided based on the latest reapportionment, which deals with the process of reassigning the number of seats within a legislative body. The 2010 census results revealed that Illinois lost one of its 19 Congressional seats. Redistricting will determine how the remaining 18 seats will be divided within Illinois. Once the final redistricting proposal has passed, the new boundary lines will take effect following the 2012 elections and will remain in place for the next ten years.
Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News
“In accordance with the new legislation, we ask that our elected officials draw district lines around united Latino communities, not through them,” said Agenda Member Marisol Morales, co-chair of the Puerto Rican Agenda. “The members of the Illinois Latino Agenda have thought long and hard about creating maps that keep communities together. In reaching consensus on these proposed maps, we’ve put the well-being of our communities above our individual organizations, and we’re asking that our leaders in Springfield do the same.”

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