With the 2020 Census estimates later this year, Illinois and Chicago politicians will again become mapmakers, drawing the lines for the next decade’s legislative districts and wards.
Chicago political analyst Frank Calabrese used the last Census and estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey to get an early sense of population changes between 2010 and 2018. According to the data Calabrese shared with the Herald, the 4th Ward as it exists today — ranging from South Loop down through Bronzeville to Kenwood and a bit of Hyde Park — saw the second-largest growth in the city, after the Loop-centered 42nd Ward.
Calabrese said this was largely because of population growth in South Loop. The adjacent 3rd Ward, which covers South Loop and Bronzeville, saw the fourth-highest growth in the city.
Meanwhile, the 20th Ward, which includes most of Woodlawn, as well as parts of Englewood and Back of the Yards, saw its estimated population plummet more than any other ward in the city.
The population of the 5th Ward — based in Hyde Park but including a sliver of Woodlawn and a third of South Shore — was roughly stable, growing 2.05% to 52,356 people per Calabrese’s estimate. The 4th boomed 13.49%, up 7,135 to 60,007, and the 20th dropped 13.18%, or down 6,909 to 45,494.
Hyde Park was split into two wards during Richard J. Daley’s mayoralty in an unsuccessful attempt to rid City Council of independent Ald. Leon Despres (5th).
Illinois law requires 41 aldermen to sign onto a ward map in order to avoid a referendum on the matter.
Calabrese estimates that the 25th state House district, which spans the south lakefront from North Kenwood to the Indiana border, saw its population grow 2.89%. The 26th state House district, which includes South Kenwood west of Woodlawn Avenue and Hyde Park west of Ellis Avenue, and the 13th state Senate District, both contain South Loop; they grew 6.21% and 4.55%, respectively.
Calabrese supposes that Chicago's population will be around the same as it was in 2010, with population increase on the North Side and decreases on the South and West sides. The at-least-stable populations of Hyde Park's wards and state legislative districts is again better than the circumstances of the surrounding areas; Far South Siders' state legislative districts typically stretch into the suburbs.
At a February constituents meeting, Rep. Curtis J. Tarver II (D-25th) said he wished his district, with majority-Black and Latino neighborhoods along the lakefront in addition to Hyde Park, was as integrated as it is diverse. He also questioned why his North Kenwood block is represented in Washington by Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th), considered the West Side's congressman.
"I don't think you'll ever hear me say publicly, or privately, that we should gerrymander," he said when the Herald posed the question. "What I do think is absolutely important in all seriousness, is that it's important that myself and my colleagues be very, very honest about what the state looks like, what population has been lost, where people live and the rights that every individual has, by Constitution, to make sure they're represented properly."
"I think people are going to be surprised that there's more of a collective focus on that than people might have anticipated or than people might have seen in the past." he said. "We need to be more committed to ensuring representation for everybody than creating a mutual imbalance."
Late last month, Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) solicited feedback from constituents to testify at Senate Redistricting Caucus hearings or otherwise give feedback through ilsenateredistricting.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“On the South Side, we know the importance of being heard. We must speak up, we must speak out if we want change,” he said in a statement. “That’s particularly true when it comes to redistricting, which at its core is about making sure communities have a strong voice in the halls of power.”