One potentially controversial issue Evanston aldermen will face this year is redrawing the city’s ward boundaries after detailed results from the 2010 census are released later this winter.
After results of the 2000 census came out in 2001 it took aldermen nearly three years — until December 2003 — to agree on a new ward map.
But they won’t have as much time to dawdle now — since the new boundaries must be in place by November 2012, in time for the next aldermanic election in April 2013.
In the last remap, aldermen, after much debate, voted to adopt a plan that gave two wards — the 2nd and 5th — populations that were majority-minority and also voted to split the Northwestern University campus vote between two wards — the 1st and 7th.
Since then, based on the latest available census estimates, Evanston’s population has grown from 74,000 to nearly 78,000 residents.
That’s not enough to cross the 90,000 population threshhold that under state law would require adding a 10th ward to the city.
But the city’s population has also shifted geographically — with an increasing number of residents in the downtown area that’s now split among several wards.
And the racial and ethnic composition of Evanston has also changed.
The census bureau estimates suggest the city’s black population has declined from 16,704 in 2000 to 14,207 in 2009. That would be a decrease from 22.5 percent to about 18 percent.
The estimate for the city’s white population in 2009 was 52,248 up from 48,429 in 2000. That would be an increase from 65 percent to about 68 percent.
Meanwhile the number of Evanstonians who identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino has increased from 4,539 in 2000 to 5,799 in 2009. That would be an increase from 6.1 percent to about 7.6 percent.
Each of the 2009 estimates have a margin of error that could significantly increase or decrease the size of the trend, but that isn’t big enough to eliminate the shift completely.
Information on changes in the ethnic and racial composition of specific neighborhoods below the census tract level won’t be available until the 2010 census results are released.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says he anticipates the City Council will begin working on a new ward map sometime in late spring or early summer, depending on how soon the new census data becomes available.
The looming debate that could reshape NU’s voting power (Daily Northwestern, Sept. 2010)
Legal Q & A: Municipal Redistricting (Illinois Municipal League, August 2001)