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Kendall County Seeks Public's Ideas for Redistricting

Information residents need to recommend new county board district boundaries will be posted online by late Monday.

Updated Tuesday: The county has posted information for residents interested in submitted their own redistricting proposals at: http://gis.co.kendall.il.us/redistricting.html

The Kendall County Board’s redistricting committee has three proposals for redrawing the two county board districts – but its members want to hear from the public too.

By Monday afternoon, GIS Coordinator Don Clayton plans to post redistricting criteria and other information residents would need to develop their own proposals on the county’s website. Essentially, the goal is to run the district boundaries along precinct and township lines as much as possible while also dividing the population evenly.

Public boundary ideas are due to county officials by May 9, and the committee will conduct a public hearing May 12 starting about 6 p.m. Those who submitted boundary ideas will have 10 minutes to talk at the hearing, while other individuals will have five minutes.

“If there are 80 people here, I want everyone to have their time to talk,” redistricting committee chair Elizabeth Flowers said, adding that the meeting would recess if the audience became unruly.

Some county board members have expressed a preference for maintaining the two, five-member districts, while some residents are pushing for five two-member districts. The board can reduce (but not increase) its members through redistricting.

During a committee meeting Friday afternoon, county board member Anne Vickery said she wasn’t looking for much of a change.

“Everything I’ve seen – I think you’ve done a good job of working it out so far,” Vickery said.

The current two-district map has 58,486 residents in District 1 and 56,250 in District 2, a 1.95 percent population difference between the two. One two-district proposal would create a population difference of 1.13 percent and the second would create a population difference of 1.1 percent – both by varying which precincts in western Oswego Township are included in District 1.

The third proposal would create a population difference of 0.46 percent but would split the village of Lisbon by moving Lisbon Township into District 2.

Frequent board critic and Oswego resident Chrisi Vineyard is a proponent of a five-district map. That proposal (roughly speaking) puts most of the county from the middle of Yorkville south in a single district, places the northwest corner of the county (including Plano, Little Rock and Bristol) in another district and divides the northeast portion of the county into three districts.

Oswego resident George Jones also has suggested 10 single-member districts, with three geographically large districts on the southern half of the county. Each district would have between 11,335 and 11,841 residents, according to Jones' proposal.

Vineyard said some residents did not understand that adding districts would not increase board salary costs, because the number of board members would remain the same. But Kendall County Chief Deputy Clerk Rennetta Mickelson said it would increase election costs.

"The more districts we have, the more ballot styles we'll have," Mickelson said. "That is going to increase election costs exponentially."

Editor's note: This article was updated with information about Oswego resident George Jones' proposal about 7 a.m. Saturday.

kpfarrer April 30, 2011 at 12:38 PM
Thanks very much to the Patch for following this story and giving residents a place to discuss. As for our County Board, it's about time they invited the public to participate. It is apparent that the KCB would not have invited the public if this issue wasn't brought to light by others. The Kendall County Board's Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee was formed a while ago and has already been meeting (3/21/11, 4/8/11, & 4/29/11)without any effort to inform or invite the public.
kpfarrer April 30, 2011 at 12:41 PM
The Redistricting Committee (RC) wasn't on the Kendall County Board (KCB) 3/1/11 meeting agenda, but their 3/21/11 meeting was on the calendar, buried in the meeting packet (http://www.co.kendall.il.us/county_administration/Board_Packets/2011/March%201%202011.pdf). The RC wasn't on the KCB 3/15/11 meeting agenda either, nor was the 4/8/11 RC meeting on the calendar (http://www.co.kendall.il.us/county_administration/Board_Packets/2011/March%2015%202011.pdf). The RC wasn't mentioned on the 4/6/11 KCB meeting agenda, nor was the upcoming 4/8/11 RC meeting (http://www.co.kendall.il.us/county_administration/Board_Packets/2011/April%206%202011.pdf). The RC doesn't pop up on KCB documents until the 3/15/11 meeting minutes, after that meeting occurred (http://www.co.kendall.il.us/county_administration/Minutes/2011_Minutes/March%2015%202011.pdf). There is not even one single mention of a RC public meeting or hearing. The only thing that is apparent is that the KCB formed a committee, conducted meetings, and decided what they wanted to do about redistricting, all without any effort whatsoever to involve the public. Until now.
kpfarrer April 30, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Despite a massive population increase the KCB wants to do nothing but keep things the same. They did not provide any reason why, and did not previously discuss the costs involved. The RC has been meeting since 3/14/11, and now, on 4/29/11, after public outcry and criticism from local media, they offer the public an opportunity to create and submit their own plans by 5/9/11, with only 10 days notice. They will have redistricting information for the public available online some time on 5/2/11, only 7 days before the deadline. When the KCB formed the RC (in Feb., Mar., or prior ???), why didn’t they schedule public hearings or publish any announcements about their meetings? Even here on the Patch calendar other KCB meetings were posted, but not the RC meetings. I posted the 4/29/11 RC meeting on the Patch calendar.
kpfarrer April 30, 2011 at 12:42 PM
The other 18 counties with populations similar to Kendall ALL have way more districts, up to 29 compared to Kendall's 2! Grundy County, with less than half the population of Kendall, has 3 districts compared to our 2. Other counties invited the public to participate. The Ledger Sentinel said "this isn't Libya. We urge the board's ad hoc committee and the county board, who will eventually cast a final vote on the boundary line, to put aside political considerations and do what is best for the county and the 114,736 residents they serve. The board should invite the public to take an active role in re-drawing the boundary lines and creating additional districts. Drawing boundary lines that provide the opportunity for the best, most equal representation on the board for all of the county's residents should be the board's primary goal." (http://www.ledgersentinel.com/article.asp?a=9584).
kpfarrer April 30, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Per the 4/8/11 RC meeting minutes, “Ms. Flowers (the committee chair) reminded the committee that the goal of redistricting is to keep all precincts intact and impact the fewest voters possible.” That’s their goal? I agree with the Ledger Sentinel, and a lot of residents, that the goal of redistricting should be for “the best, most equal representation on the board for all of the county's residents”. We should improve representation for the MOST voters possible! It’s time for our Kendall County Board, elected by the people to represent the people, to respect its citizens and conduct county business in an open and accessible manner.
Richard April 30, 2011 at 05:09 PM
You have a lot of good rhetoric and talking points about "equal representation" and representing the people but what exactly is the problem with the current board? We saw massive population explosion over the last decade of people flocking to what Kendall County has to offer so it would seem that the Board must actually do a pretty good job. I think that what you want is not equal representation but for your friends to get some press.
kpfarrer May 01, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Yes, I do have a lot of good points. My "problem with the current board" is very well explained, but I will repeat. They excluded the public from the redistricting process, and are only now, after residents and media brought their poor conduct to light, permitting any participation from the public, and with very little notice or time to do so. Furthermore, the county is just now mentioning cost. “Chief Deputy Clerk Rennetta Mickelson said it would increase election costs “ ... “The more districts we have, the more ballot styles we'll have”, but no figures were given. This is misleading and appears to be a scare tactic. No matter how many districts we have, the same number of ballots are printed. Perhaps a district increase may result in a little more administrative time for more ballot styles, but that is the county’s job. They have staff for county business. Cost is the single only reason against increasing the number of county districts given (on 4/29/11) by the county so far, but the Kendall County Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee (at their 3/21/11 meeting), and a number of Kendall County Board Members (at a 2/21/11 Republican Central Committee meeting), had already decided that they did not want to increase the number of districts, without ever mentioning cost, and public comment was never considered or invited. I think residents have a valid complaint. Let’s hear your thoughts about redistricting. What do you recommend, and why?
Dock Ellis May 01, 2011 at 06:44 PM
The point is, when you have more districts - again, with the same number of reps - you have reps that are closer to the people. A person living in unincorporated NaAuSay Township, for example, has different concerns and issues than someone living in Boulder Hill. Sure, they share concerns as well, but you would have someone who lives in your area representing you. Think about it this way: if you have a concern about a federal issue and want an answer from someone, are you more likely to seek out your state's U.S. Senator or your local U.S. House representative? More districts mean government closer to the people.
Richard May 03, 2011 at 03:11 AM
Dock, I appreciate the reasoned analysis that you bring and respect your position even though I am not in favor of that approach. I personally feel that the current districts have worked well. I cannot point to a situation where I have needed a specific representative to bring something to the table that someone who lives in my district has not advocated. In fact, I have been able to talk to county board members that live in District 1 or District 2 and they want to listen to my concerns regardless of whether I am in their district or not. I feel that this is a result of larger districts. Because they are large, the various representatives have to be more attentive to everyone rather than just their specific constituents in Na Au Say Township (to use your example). If you have 10 single member districts then you are creating little fiefdoms for each county board member. It will end up like the wards in Chicago where no one dares venture in to a separate ward for fear of retribution. Now that is not the case, they are able to work together for the good of the county regardless of where they live. So I am in favor of the plan that keeps the districts pretty similar to where they are currently drawn.
Richard May 03, 2011 at 03:11 AM
Ms. Pfarrer I am afraid that you seem hung up on nailing current members for what appears to be a non-starter. You are looking to smear members for your own political gain rather than for a legitimate argument of an issue. Dock was able to articulate why he (sorry assuming he) is in favor of multiple districts in one email which I respect though I disagree. I see 6 posts from you and not one advocating an actual position.
Jillian Duchnowski May 03, 2011 at 08:20 PM
If you are interested in offering a suggestion for redistricting, the information is available on the county website at: http://gis.co.kendall.il.us/redistricting.html
kpfarrer May 04, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Richard – In this thread I’m discussing the way our Co. Board excluded the public from the redistricting process until people complained about it. Even now, although the CB is inviting the public to contribute, they have provided very little time (as an afterthought), and seem to already have made up their minds. It is very clear that they are not interested in public participation. That is not good representation of the residents. In other threads about redistricting I’ve clearly stated my position. I am in favor of more CB districts to better represent the vastly increased population like all the other counties in IL with a similar population, not for my “own political gain”. I am not “bashing” anyone. I am holding elected officials accountable, have a specific complaint about the entire board’s conduct, and have documented it. I am not bashing anyone about their political affiliations or their hormones. My complaint is legitimate and applies regardless of political party. You seem hung up on discrediting me because I’m criticizing the CB instead of having a conversation with me about the CB’s conduct. Hopefully we can stop focusing on me and discuss the CB & redistricting. The CB members may be able to work well together, but that doesn’t mean they are working with residents, and that is what my complaint here is. Are you saying it’s ok with you for the CB to exclude the public from the redistricting process?
kpfarrer May 04, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Jillian - Thanks for the article update & the link.
Richard May 05, 2011 at 04:30 AM
It would be fine to discuss simply the redistricting but you have unfortunately made it about you by supporting the filing of the Open Meeting Act complaint and by trying to argue that you have been excluded from the process. Its really disengenuous to say that the public is being excluded from participation when you yourself point all of the meetings that have been held, even quoting minutes from the meeting and on top of that Jillian posted the link where you could have provided your suggestion. If you want to disagree based on your ideology or your partisan preference so be it, but do not try to hide under the cover of public watch dog because we see right through it.
kpfarrer May 07, 2011 at 03:22 PM
So if anyone has an opinion and takes a position they are making the entire discussion about themselves instead of the topic? That makes no sense. And dismissing an opinion merely because of a person's political affiliation doesn't make any sense either. In that case all the Republican's posts should be dismissed as well. I'd really like to see comments on how the board handled the issue of public participation in the redistricting process. Can anyone articulate exactly how the County Board made any effort prior to the 4/29 meeting to include the public? Just because meetings were held and I was able to find them by digging around online afterward does not mean that the CB invited any public participation (they didn't). The link Jillian posted was created AFTER the 4/29 meeting. The link didn't exist before and no one could have submitted anything.
kpfarrer May 07, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Now the CB has finally given the public an opportunity to contribute, but very little time to do so, and they refuse to make the mapping software available to the public via a work station or terminal. The CB will probably say they don't have time to set up a terminal for public use, and of course they don't. They began meeting on 3/21 but didn't even consider public participation until their 4/29 meeting, AFTER people complained. Had the CB planned on working with the residents they could have a terminal available a long time ago, and would have published announcements about their meetings. Now that they have responded to public pressure they don't have time to provide the tools necessary for mapping to the public (who paid for the software and have the right to access public information).
Rich T May 07, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Sorry Kelly but you blame the Reps when your own Elizabeth Flowers(Dem) is the chair of the redistricting??? Don't the Dems talk to one another anymore?
kpfarrer May 07, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Rich T - Where in any of my posts am I blaming only the Republicans? I'm not. What are your thoughts about the CB's conduct regarding redistricting?
Rich T May 07, 2011 at 04:27 PM
The whole redistricting is bad - not just the county board. From the Fed down to the county - they all protect their own turf. I'm all for changing the process from the top down. Instead of posting complaints where does anyone start the process?
Matt Walker May 07, 2011 at 05:01 PM
I agree with Rich T. Redistricing is nothing more than politicans protecting their political fiefdoms. I think it is easier to get started working from the bottom up than it is to work from the top down. At the lower levels of government, the politicians are offered a lot less protection than they are at the top and it is much easier to unseat them. It is a lot cheaper to run a campaign against a village or county board member than it is to unseat a Senator or a state rep.
kpfarrer May 07, 2011 at 07:36 PM
I agree that there is an unpleasant political aspect, but shouldn't districts be monitored somehow and have to adhere to guidelines which ensure proper representation of the people? The political aspect is even more of a reason for residents to become involved in the process. If they don't, then just a few politically involved people make all the decisions for the whole county for 10 yrs., without any input from the people. As far as posting complaints, it's more than that. Hopefully local residents are reading, and some may even become more aware, interested, and involved.

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