DuPage Forest Preserve’s New District Map Advances in Split Vote

DuPage Forest Preserve
Donate Today

The DuPage County Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners approved a new district map in a 4-3 split vote.

About the Board’s Decision

The decision comes as officials await a bill affirming the board’s actions to be signed into law by the governor.

The forest preserve district typically adheres to the same district map that is drawn for the DuPage County Board, but some officials voiced support for going it alone.

Board President Daniel Hebreard said something had to give. “I think it’s a clarification that we’re a separate agency from the county,” Hebreard said. “We wanted to work together. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The county felt that their process would not allow us to work with them.”

DuPage County officials have said representatives from the forest preserve were welcome to participate in the redistricting process. Regardless, the forest preserve’s map features a drawing of boundary lines similar to the county board’s, which was approved last week.

Hebreard said they are proud of the map the forest preserve put to a vote.

“We tried to use a map where we keep more communities together,” Hebreard said. “You can’t keep everyone together, but we were able to keep Warrenville and Winfield and most of Glendale Heights together.”

Board Member Pushback

Some commissioners took issue with the forest preserve board’s redistricting process, saying it felt rushed and the residents are going to feel the impact.

“The voters had one week to learn of the redistricting by the forest preserve and examine the map and attempt to understand why we were doing this and how it will affect them,” Commissioner Linda Painter said.

Commissioner Al Murphy said it is going to add confusion for voters when they cast their ballots in elections.

Hebreard disagreed.

“There really will be no confusion in terms of when you get your ballot,” he said. “Obviously, you’ll have a clear idea of who’s on your ballot.”

The effort taken to draw a new map for the forest preserve district has cost taxpayers about $20,000 to $25,000, officials said.

Hebreard voiced optimism that the governor will sign the bill into state law, saying it passed both the house of representatives and senate with strong support.

A redrawing of the map is a process that is required every 10 years.

The dissenting votes were cast by commissioners Al Murphy, Linda Painter and Marsha Murphy.

Joint Redistricting Committee Vote

Also at the meeting, the district took steps to establish a joint redistricting committee between the forest preserve and the DuPage County Board. Hebreard said the district could be open to sharing the same map as long as forest preserve officials can have a seat at the table in those discussions.

This leaves open the possibility the two entities could share the same map come 2031 when the next redistricting plan is required to be in place.

But Hebreard said it’s only fitting that the forest preserve should be able to draw its own map.

In 1996, the Illinois General Assembly approved legislation recognizing the DuPage County Forest Preserve as an independent governing body that is separate of the DuPage County Board but it did not specify that it had the authority to draw its own boundary lines.

“Everyone’s got different maps for their Illinois state senator and representative,” Hebreard said. “I don’t anticipate having a problem over the next 10 years having a little bit of a different map. But if there was some interest or we did have a problem that arose that was unforeseen, this would allow us then to work together if there was interest again in having the same map.”

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

If you have a story idea, we want to hear from you!