Evanston’s Redistricting Committee discussed possible changes to boundaries of the 8th and 9th Wards Tuesday evening — but the biggest impact of what they discussed could be on the 2nd Ward.

The 9th is the city’s most severely underpopulated ward, based on 2020 U.S. Census data — with 8.7% fewer residents than what it would have if each ward had exactly one-ninth of the city’s 78,110 residents — or 8,679 people.

The committee discussed shifting part or all of Precinct 5 in the 2nd Ward — the portion south of Main Street — into the 9th Ward.

That precinct has 1,163 residents. If they were all moved into the 9th Ward, it would raise the 9th Ward’s population from the current 7,920 to 9,083 — or about 4.6% over the goal.

It would also drop the 2nd Ward’s population from 5.0% above the target to 9% below the target — suggesting the 2nd Ward might then have to pick up population somewhere else.

As for growth in a different direction, Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) indicated that he was comfortable not having his ward expand east of the Metra tracks.

“I don’t know as much personally about what’s going on” across the tracks, Geracaris said. “It seems like a natural border.”

But Ald. Devon Reid (8th) suggested having the 9th jump across the tracks to add the planned affordable housing development at South Boulevard and Hinman as a way of trimming the size of the 3rd Ward, which, as a result of recent high-density new development, is currently 11.7% over the population target.

Reid previously has suggested extending his 8th Ward eastward as well, to give more wards frontage along Lake Michigan.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) didn’t attend Tuesday night’s meeting, but at previous committee sessions she has voiced opposition to losing any of the southern portion of her ward, preferring instead to give up part or all of the section of the 3rd Ward north of Dempster Street.

Committee members also discussed whether to include the anticipated population of new housing developments that have yet to be completed in their debate about new boundaries.

The committee’s chair, Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th), said that under federal and state court rulings the city would have to base its boundaries on the 2020 census data.

However the court rulings don’t require absolute equality of ward populations, so the Council might be able to build some allowance for anticipated new development into the boundary lines it eventually draws.

The committee is next scheduled to meet on Jan. 10, and Nieuwsma says he’s hoping to have one or more proposed new maps ready for debate by the full City Council by next May, just after the April election for council seats in the 2nd and 9th wards.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. The second ward is the most gerrymandered ward in the city so let’s hope they do something to resolve that.

    Any ward boundary where Sam’s Club and the Hilton Garden Inn are in the same Ward is ridiculous.

    The council should focus on compactness of boundaries beginning with Ward 2

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