Aldermen closer to finalized ward remap

December 15, 2011

Michell Eloy

The alderman in charge of redrawing Chicago's 50 wards says he has the votes to approve a new map.

Alderman Richard Mell said on Wednesday the agreed to map includes 18 majority black wards and 13 or 14 predominantly Hispanic wards, with some others holding sizable Latino populations.

"It's so close," said Mell. "I feel confident that we're there."

Those numbers have been the issue stalling the ward remap and ignited some racial tensions among aldermen. New census data indicate that of the 200,000 people who left Chicago in the last decade, about 180,000 of them were African-American. The Hispanic population, however, has grown by about 25,000.

Alderman Howard Brookins heads the council's black caucus.

He said aldermen are still tinkering with the ward lines but are close to proposing a map that could win his caucus's support.

"We are there, and we believe, and we are confident also that we can get behind a version of what has been proposed," said Brookins.

If 10 or more aldermen object to the map, it could be put to a costly voter referendum.