A single U.S. congressman now represents all of Forest Park, following the redistricting plan Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law last week, a plan that could end up in court.
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis’ 7th Congressional District now includes the entire village. For the last 10 years, the village included portions of two other districts, Dan Lipinski’s 3rd and Luis Gutierrez’s 4th, but the decennial redrawing of the boundaries pushed both of those Democratic legislators out of the village. Davis, also a Democrat, previously represented most of Forest Park. Now he represents all of it.
Following the release of the 2010 Census data, the new congressional map, drawn by Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly because they hold the majority in the legislature and the governor’s office, has been a source of contention for months now. Illinois Republicans have complained that the boundaries are unfair because they will pit a number of current GOP elected officials against each other in future elections. Democrats have been criticized for not being transparent enough during the redistricting process.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-8) told the Forest Park Review that community forums were held statewide, so legislators could hear public concerns.
“The maps were drawn to be in line with the [Voting] Rights Act,” Ford said. “The [Voting] Rights Act says there has to be a certain amount of representation for minority groups, so you have to make sure that minorities are represented throughout the state.”
“There is no way that the legislature could do anything that the census did not report,” Ford said.
Ten of 11 congressional Republicans and the party’s state chairman, Pat Brady, slammed the new map last week and announced that they plan to file a lawsuit. The dissenting Republicans said in a statement that the bill “rewarded [Quinn’s] Democrat allies by approving this highly partisan map that tears apart communities and disrespects the will of Illinois voters as expressed in last fall’s election.” This is in reference to the GOP picking up four seats in the November mid-term elections.
“Illinois is clearly a blue state and that’s what the census data reported,” Ford said. “I guess the Republicans have to do a little more work so they can turn Illinois a little more red.”
The Hill, a blog that covers national politics, noted that the Democrats could likely pick up five or six seats “if the map stands.”
“This map is fair, maintains competitiveness within congressional districts, and protects the voting rights of minority communities,” Quinn said in a statement last week.
The dispute has little impact in Forest Park since it continues to be represented by the Democratic Party.
Congressional redistricting occurs every 10 years when census data becomes available, and is done to conform to population and racial demographic shifts. Illinois lost one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives due to population shift. It now has 18 seats in Congress.
Davis’ office did not respond to questions regarding the new boundaries and his familiarity with his new constituency in Forest Park.
Quinn also signed into law earlier this month the redrawn boundaries of districts for the state legislature. State legislators representing the village remain the same. So, too, do the portions of their districts in Forest Park. In the Illinois House, both Ford’s eighth district and state Rep. Karen Yarbrough’s seventh district remain in Forest Park. Their combined districts make up state Sen. Kim Lightford’s 4th state senate district, which continues to include Forest Park.
Neither Lightford nor Yarbrough returned calls and emails requesting comment on the redistricting process.