With the official adoption of new district boundaries, the geographic stage has been set for an interesting 2022 election season for Lake County Board incumbents and hopefuls.
If every board member runs for reelection, incumbents would face each other in four newly drawn districts. As of now, that would involve two Democrats in the Waukegan area and two Republicans in the far southwest part of the county, with a Democrat and Republican facing off in two other redrawn districts.
The field will be open in two newly drawn districts in southwest and south central areas, as no incumbents currently live there.
County board districts are required by state law to be redrawn every 10 years using census data, to ensure they include approximately the same number of residents.
Lake County currently is divided into 21 districts, each with one elected representative. Members double as Lake County Forest Preserve District commissioners. In the new map, however, the number of districts was reduced to 19 starting with the 2022 election.
The new map was months in the making and is the first in Lake County history created with Democrats holding a majority of board seats.
A seven-member reapportionment committee, led by county board Chair Sandy Hart, met six times beginning in February before recommending a new map to the full county board. The 14-7 approval Tuesday was along party lines, with Julie Simpson of Vernon Hills the lone Democrat voting against.
“Gerrymandering is legal, but it doesn’t make it right,” said Simpson.
Supporters touted the transparency of the process that included four listening sessions, a public comment period and the doubling of districts with majority minority populations from two to four.
Hart noted that the number of towns split into multiple districts was reduced from 19 to 16 with the new map.
“It’s not the incumbents’ map, it’s the county’s map,” she said. “I think this is the best map that reflects the changing demographics in Lake County.”
But detractors contend late map changes were not available for public review and comment. Opponents also argued the maps were selective and unfair, with some communities unnecessarily splintered into multiple districts. Lake Zurich, for example, will be represented by four county board members.
“This map makes no sense to me,” Lake Zurich Mayor Tom Poynton said before Tuesday’s vote. “It looks like a 2-year-old was given a red crayon and told to draw a map.”
The redrawn 17th District will include Republicans Catherine Sbarra of Lake Zurich and Michael Danforth of Fox River Grove. Democrats Bill Durkin and Diane Hewitt are in the redrawn 8th District in the Waukegan area.
In the Round Lake Beach/Lindenhurst area, Democrat Terry Wilke and Republican Dick Barr are in the redrawn 16th District.
And in the Vernon Hills area, Simpson and Republican Ann Maine will be in the redrawn 3rd District.
“These maps split communities, split neighborhoods, and there is no reason for it,” Simpson said.
This content was originally published here.