There is a possibility that the Democrat controlled Illinois House and Senate may create a map that takes some of the border communities of DuPage, splits them up into small pieces and puts them into new legislative districts that straddle Cook County. The concern is that a DuPage border community could become a very small part of these new dual-county districts.
I believe special consideration must be given to these border communities. Ten DuPage communities reside on the Cook County border. These Cook-DuPage border communities have very different property tax, sales tax, gas tax and legislative agendas. There are recognized differences between Cook communities and DuPage communities for everything from public transit (PACE vs. CTA), how each county gets its water (DuPage Water Commission vs. Water Reclamation District), and separate community college districts. These areas and others eventually need Springfield legislative support.
DuPage and Cook communities also have separate legislative agendas. The DuPage Mayors and Managers conference lobby legislators for the 36 communities in DuPage County. Cook County has a separate West Central Mayors Caucus, representing 37 Cook County communities that border DuPage County. If there were no differences and this border didn’t matter, separate legislative entities such as the different mayor and manager conferences would not have to exist–but they do.
Communities within DuPage have grown collectively into a unique place, with particular issues, people and needs, just as communities in Cook have collectively grown into a unique place with its own particular issues, people and needs. This is not an us vs. them. It is recognition of different needs for different areas that a community must contend with—and by extension its legislator must contend with—because of a political border.
The border community’s ability to receive legislative assistance for needs from roads to community grant proposals will be greatly diluted if this fractional representation becomes a reality, especially if compared to the unfair advantage that whole communities within a legislative district will have. The message you would be sending with such a map is that border communities such as Roselle, Elmhurst, Wood Dale, Itasca and Bensenville, do not deserve to be heard as a whole.
Please keep border communities intact so that the community has at least a majority of its population within a single district, and that district is preferably within its own county.
And whatever shape the map takes, allow the communities time to comment on it. There has been some important legislation coming out of Springfield regarding transparency as of late. It would be a shame if that consideration of transparency didn’t extend to the proposed map before a final vote.
—Paul Fichtner, member, DuPage County Board Dist. 1 and former Elmhurst alderman