Will County Board Postpones Vote on Redistricting Map, Board Member Salaries

Will County Redistricting
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The Will County Board has postponed a vote on its redistricting map.

At Thursday’s meeting, officials were expected to vote on County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant’s plan with 11 districts and two members for every district. But with no clear consensus, a decision was delayed.

“We have been working on a compromise and those conversations are still ongoing,” County Board Speaker Mimi Cowan said. “If we felt there was a chance to compromise and we needed time to do it, we wanted to provide that.”

Why Now?

The county intends to use the added time allotted by delaying Thursday’s vote to redraw precinct lines.

The map is required to be redrawn every 10 years to account for population changes noted in U.S. Census data.

The board’s decision came as dozens either turned out to speak on this topic or submitted written public comments to be read aloud at the meeting.

About the Proposals

Will County is currently structured with 13 districts and two members for each district. Supporters of a similarly drawn map by the county’s ad-hoc redistricting committee argue that the size of the board needs to be maintained, saying it was the result of a bipartisan process with attention to fairness. This proposal, however, is no longer on the table.

Critics of that plan disagree, saying that better, more efficient governance and representation is made possible under the county executive’s map. Under this proposal, four board members will lose their seats.

Ultimately, the redistricting plan was postponed in a 24-2 vote.

Board Member Salaries Vote

Officials also postponed a vote on board member salaries at the meeting.

Bertino-Tarrant said best practice is to vote on board member salaries and the redistricting map at the same time.

Some officials called the process into question, saying that when they postponed the consideration of a new map, they still should be able to discuss board member salaries. But the county did not provide data for members of the board to review in advance.

Cowan apologized, saying the blame is on her.

“I will take full personal responsibility for not starting the conversation about salaries earlier,” she said. “I was so focused on the map and the discussions about that that frankly, it wasn’t really on my radar. And that’s on me.”

Supporters of the county executive’s redistricting plan argue that taxpayers will see a cost savings if the size of the board is reduced as they contend that fewer members prompt fewer salaries to be paid. Opponents disagree, saying that it’s disingenuous to make that case until board member salaries are set.

Officials voted 16-10 to postpone taking action on board member salaries.

Moving Forward

The county board is expected to hold a special meeting at a later date. At that time, officials will weigh in on the county’s redistricting plan and board member salaries.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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