New ward boundaries that could give 15 seats to Hispanics and cut one African-American seat received exactly enough Chicago City Council votes on Thursday to avoid a citywide vote in March.
The 41-8 vote came in a special session called by Mayor Rahm Emanuel; the lines will take effect in 2015, the next citywide election.
Changes were still being made to the map hours before the meeting.
Among the no votes was Ald. Robert Fioretti, whose South Side 2nd Ward now snakes as far north as Wrightwood Avenue. Fioretti’s request that the council delay the vote was denied. He and Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36th), another alderman who was drawn out of his ward, wanted the map to be released to the public for further review before the council voted.
The process needed more openness and transparency, Fioretti said.
“I wanted the people to comment on the map,” he said. “Their voices are not heard. It was only made public for one hour before the vote.”
The changes to the 2nd Ward allowed for Lincoln Park to remain mostly in the 43rd Ward.
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) voted for the amended map that came out of the Black Caucus after initially supporting the other plan, which came out of the Latino Caucus. In that plan, her Lincoln Park neighborhood was split into five separate wards.
“We were put back together after a compromise,” she said. “Now we can get back to work on the stuff that really counts.”
Smith posted a message on the 43rd Ward’s website saying her constituents’ hard work saved their community.
“Your letters, phone calls, and e-mails showed City Council and the mayor how much your community means to you,” the message said.
The council currently has 19 black aldermen, 22 white, one of indian decent and eight latinos.
Those who fought against the new map were fearful of losing their population or were at-risk incumbents.
Michael Zalewski (23rd) was absent but still voted no, via cellphone.
Ald. Toni Foulkes, whose West Englewood 15th Ward goes from majority African-American to majority Hispanic, was also absent.
Five other aldermen also voted against the proposal: Roderick Sawyer (6th), Michael Chandler (24th), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Rey Colon (35th) and John Arena (45th).
Sawyer said the process was disrespectful because aldermen weren’t able to discuss a compromise on the amended map, but he plans to move forward.
“I’m going to continue with my 6th Ward as it is no matter what it looks like,” he said.
Emanuel, noting to council applause that the city went 24 hours without a single murder being reported, asked the aldermen to put their priorities in place and shift their minds to issues such as crime that affect their constituents more than politics.
“Let’s focus on things that matter the most,” he said.
Ald. Dick Mell (33rd), who heads the Rules Committee, which considered the map, said they worked closely with a lawyer and he was confident in the new map.
Mell said he hoped the redrawn boundaries would be able to avoid a lawsuit. “A challenge and a referendum costs money,” Mell said.
Despite Mell’s confidence, Fioretti said he was not so sure that this map would stand in court.