Redistricting Committee members Melissa Wynne and Jonathan Nieuwsma at Tuesday night's meeting.

After more than a dozen Sherman Plaza residents demanded that their downtown building not be switched from the 1st to the 4th Ward, Evanston’s Redistricting Committee voted Monday night to give them what they wanted.

Three wards — the 1st, 2nd and 4th — now include portions of downtown. All three also include low-rise residential areas outside the downtown district.

But the residents of the second tallest building in town made it sound like a switch would have shades of being banished to Siberia.

Lester Asher argued that “the interests of the people in the downtown area are substantially different from the interests of the single family dwellings in the 4th Ward.”

Fred Tanenbaum called the switch “unfair” and said it would mean people on different sides of streets around his building would be in different wards.

Those anti-redistricting sentiments had also surfaced at a 1st Ward meeting last Thursday, where another resident, Arthur Altman said condo owners in the tower don’t want to be part of “one of the distant wards.”

Committee members Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) and Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) decided they could accommodate the tower residents demands, and by making a few other tweaks to proposed ward boundaries they managed to also reduce the population variation among wards from 3.35% to 2.57% — improving the adherence of the map to one-person-one-vote principles.

The proposed map after Tuesday night’s revisions.

The proposed map as revised at Tuesday night’s meeting with a population deviation of 2.57%. Colors and black lines show proposed new ward boundaries. Grey lines show changes from existing ward boundaries. Thin lines indicate precinct boundaries. Single-digit numbers indicate wards. Other numbers indicate precinct populations.

The proposed map after the committee’s March meeting.

The committee’s map as it looked after last month’s meeting, with a population variation of 3.35%.

The committee, which had decided almost a year ago, early in the redistricting process, to try to minimize the number of people affected by boundary changes chose not to act on a suggestion Tuesday night from community activist Meleika Gardner that they completely throw out the existing map and redistribute the city’s “amenities and assets” to different wards as a way to atone for what she described as the city’s racist past.

The committee decided that several other proposed changes — including placing both sides of the Noyes Street business district in a single ward — were impractical, because of the large number of residents who’d have to be shifted and the population imbalances those moves would create.

The committee voted to hold one more meeting next month before adopting a final proposed map for submission to the City Council for ultimate action.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. I do understand the feelings of the residents in not wanting to be in the 4th represented by a council member who ignores the desires of the immediate neighbors (the Margarita Inn), installs expensive requirements in the name of environmental issues and consistently votes with interests completely outside those of his ward. Only question is where do I go to get redistricted out of the 4th?

    1. Come to the 2nd – we’re about as normal as it gets. The rest of the wards are whacked out of their minds.

      Our last 2 alders have been solid (Braithwaite + Harris), good people who understand what the MAJORITY of it’s people want. They understand that they are PUBLIC SERVANTS and we are PRIVATE CITIZENS – they are true Liberals. They are what a Liberal was about 4-6 years ago.

      1. Wish I could join you. I always thought Peter was one of the council’s most reasonable and responsive members. I do strongly support Evanston businesses so perhaps going to the 1st would be a good choice. I just wish I had a choice

  2. 4th ward has gone downhill with Nieuwsma. All he wants is to get his political career going, at the expense of the 4th ward citizens

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