Ethnic Groups Split On Proposed Redistricting Changes

May 1, 2014

A lawsuit seeking to keep two citizen's initiatives from ever coming before voters has been filed. Although the case makes no mention of how it will affect minority voters' rights, sources say organizers took pains to reach out to ethnic groups.

Two potential constitutional changes are at issue: one limiting how long legislators can be in office, the other stripping them of the power to draw their own districts.

The suit challenging them was filed by Mike Kasper, an attorney closely aligned with House Speaker Mike Madigan; the powerful Democrat is against both plans.

Credit State of Illinois

There are about a dozen plaintiffs, including several minority organizations, like head of Peoria's NAACP chapter and the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

Sources say ethnic groups were courted. At a recent luncheon, they were told the redistricting change would cut the number of minority districts. At least one individual who attended did not want to be identified, fearing a loss of state grant money.

But other minority groups support the measure. Sylvia Puente is with the Latino Policy Forum.

"Our point of view is that the Latino community got shortchanged in the last redistricting process," Puente said.

Puente is hopeful about a provision in the new plan that says a map cannot dilute a minority community's ability to elect its own candidates.