Redistricting plan created, not approved by all

By Eric Heisig

Last week, the Champaign City Council chose the redistricting plan to be brought forward in an upcoming City Council meeting.

The new plan was designed to rebalance the districts, as the city acquired more than 7,500 new citizens since the last census. Due to this, some of the districts, most notably districts 3 and 5, became unbalanced with the rest.

The chosen plan has about 15,000 people in each district, and was drawn by Vic McIntosh, District 3. He said the old map had many split districts, and he wanted to fix that this time around.

“I tried to draw it so there were no big changes,” McIntosh said. “With the new plan, only one precinct remains split.”

All but two of the Council members voted for McIntosh’s map during last week’s study session. The two others, Marci Dodds of District 4 and Gina Jackson of District 1, voted for another map.

Dodds said she chose the other map because she believes partisanship played a part in the drawing of the chosen one.

“Map 1 (the map chosen) is a much more partisan map,” Dodds said.

Ken Pirok, District 5, was not at the study session to vote on the map, but said he would not have voted for it had he been there.

“That map was drawn specifically for the benefit of McIntosh,” Pirok said.

Pirok added that McIntosh took a lot more out of his district than necessary, while adding some new areas that he has not campaigned in the past.

However, McIntosh said this did not come to mind when he drew the map.

“I had no privy to any voting records,” McIntosh said. “We’re a nonpartisan group, and that’s the best way to draw the map.”

Dodds was also pushing to keep District 4 more centered, which she said the chosen map succeeded at doing.

“It’s got the rich and the poor,” Dodds said. “It’s a very balanced district. A strong government, like a strong economy, has a strong middle. District 4 has that role.”

Diversity also played a large role in this, and McIntosh said his map was not designed to draw lines between any groups of people.

“We are guided by diversity,” McIntosh said. “You can’t draw specific districts to pick up or eliminate a certain group of people. That’s the election law.”

Tom Bruno, Council member at large, pointed out at the Feb. 12 study session that this plan will affect one of the voting terms. The districts will be redrawn again after the 2010 census, sometime in the next four years.

McIntosh said he also took this into account when he drew the new map.

“I was looking at future growth,” he said. “I know we are coming back to this.”