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Speaker Welch on At the Virtual Table: Deal not quite done on first elected Chicago school board

Watch the conversation with Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch and Edward-Isaac Dovere, author of the new book, “Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaign to Defeat Trump”

The deal to establish a first-ever elected Chicago school board is not quite done and the legislation that passed the General Assembly this week is still subject to some negotiation with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch said Thursday on “At the Virtual Table,” the Chicago Sun-Times political show hosted by Laura Washington and Lynn Sweet.

The final version depends on the outcome of negotiations with Lightfoot, who does not want the 21-member elected board state lawmakers created — but will likely have to live with it. Though the measure passed, it is being held — and not yet sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker to sign — “as a gesture to the mayor,” Welch said.

Lightfoot does not have the muscle in Springfield to block an elected board, but she may be able to have some impact on crucial aspects of the plan to spawn a new set of elected officials. Sun-Times reporters Nader Issa and Fran Spielman have an overview here on the issues still to be addressed.

Welch said Lightfoot, state Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, the House sponsor of the bill, and “stakeholders,” will sit down at a bargaining table, “and hopefully, they can work through these issues.” Once they are at the table, “anything can happen,” Welch said.

In other news:

  • Welch said work on remapping what will be Illinois 17 congressional districts — the state will have to drop a seat — should be done in mid-to-late October. Democrats, who hold the majority in the Illinois General Assembly — control redistricting.

Welch was careful in his answers, probably wanting to avoid saying anything that could be used against Democrats if there are court challenges to the congressional map. The maps Democrats drew for the state House and Senate districts — which Republicans said is tilted toward Democrats — are already the subject of two lawsuits.

Asked what Democratic members in Congress from the Illinois delegation could use a better district, Welch said, “I don’t think Democrats need help.”

Every analysis — from the Democratic point of view — agrees on the need to add more Democratic turf to the 14th District represented by U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill.

“I think Lauren’s going to be fine,” Welch said.

  • Welch is planning a trip to Washington, D.C., in July. The House is in session the last two weeks of the month. It’s not a stretch to speculate he’ll get an earful from Illinois incumbents on various congressional remap scenarios when he’s in town.
  • In May, At the Virtual Table devoted the entire show to the likely prospect of an elected Chicago School Board with newsmaker guests Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, and Sybil Madison, now Lightfoot’s chief of staff and then the deputy Chicago Mayor for Education and Human Services.

To see the full June 17 show with guests Edward-Isaac Dovere, author of the just-published book “Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaign to Defeat Trump,” and Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, watch the video above, and if you are on a mobile device or our app, visit our playlist to see this and past shows either below or at suntimes.com/atvt.