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Remap redo: Democrats ‘proud’ of revised legislative maps — but GOP dubs it another ‘poor excuse for democracy’

After hours of hearings this week in which legislators were told to reverse course on maps released a week ago, Democrats released a redistricting redo that they said reflects “testimony provided the last couple of days from members of the public’’ as well as “concerns raised by Republicans.”

The Illinois House meets in Springfield in 2015.
The Illinois House meets in Springfield in 2015.
Seth Perlman/AP file

SPRINGFIELD — Following Republican complaints and public testimony, Democrats went back to the drawing board, releasing newly proposed state legislative maps late Thursday — calling them a “product our state can be proud of.”

But GOP legislators said any claims that their concerns have been taken into account were “deceptive and downright untrue.”

Democrats also released new boundaries for the three-member Cook County Board of Review Thursday night. That board allows residents to appeal their property assessments.

After hours of hearings this week in which legislators were told to reverse course on maps released a week ago, Democrats released a redistricting redo that they said reflects “testimony provided the last couple of days from members of the public’’ as well as “concerns raised by Republicans.”

Democratic state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said in a statement the maps are a “product our state can be proud of.”

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, speaks at a news conference in Springfield in May.
State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, speaks at a news conference in Springfield earlier this month.
BlueRoomStream

Democratic state Sen. Omar Aquino, chair of the Senate’s comparable panel, said these new maps maintain Illinois “as a leader in the nation for minority representation in the state legislature.”

Democrats pointed to Chicago’s Orthodox Jewish community, which they say is now contained in a single House district, as a change from their first proposed map that was unveiled last Friday.

The northeast corner of the 16th House District bordered by Kedzie on the west, Howard on the north, Washtenaw on the east, and Touhy on the south has been reconfigured to keep more of the Orthodox community in that district, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said.

At a Tuesday hearing on the first proposed boundaries, Shlomo Soroka, director of government affairs at Agudath Israel of Illinois, an advocacy group, told legislators that the Orthodox Jewish community had been “split and divided to the point of political irrelevance” under the maps released last Friday.

Other legislative districts were “reconfigured,” Democrat said, so that there would be less “incumbent Republicans … located in the same district.”

Originally, numerous state House and Senate Republicans were mapped into the same districts or into Democratic-leaning districts, narrowing their chances for retaining their seats in the next election.

Republicans were not impressed.

“Round two of the House Democratic legislative maps are as dishonest as the ones released last Friday,” House Republican leader Jim Durkin said in a statement. “Despite the flowery rhetoric about these changes, the Illinois House Democrats allowed their members to draw their own legislative districts with phony data. It is now on Governor Pritzker to live up to his pledge in 2019 and veto this poor excuse for democracy.”

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin in 2018.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin in 2018.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

In a joint statement, other House Republicans said Democratic claims that their concerns had been addressed were “deceptive and downright untrue.”

In the previous maps, 22 Republican House members and four state senators were drawn into districts with at least one other Republican incumbent.

Four of the most conservative House Republicans were put into one central Illinois district in the previous proposal. In the new map, at least one Republican, state Rep. Adam Niemerg of Dieterich, is in a separate district.

In the suburbs, state Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, and state Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, were drawn in the same district under the map released last week. They’ll now be in different districts.

The Illinois House and Senate maps released Thursday were based on data from the American Community Survey, not the actual Census numbers, which have not yet been released. In their press release, Democrats say the survey data “varies by just 0.3 percent from the state’s official [Census] count.”

Republicans have argued that the Legislature should wait for Census data rather than use the survey information.

Contributing: Rachel Hinton