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Proposed voting districts ‘accepted so far’

Voting Dist map

Naperville has only received two suggested changes to its proposed map of voting districts following five public forums.

City officials also have heard from residents who are opposed to having districts at all, but it does not appear any of them are currently taking steps to try to reverse the new format.

The change in city government stems from a November 2010 referendum in which voters said they want a mix of district and at-large representation. Beginning in 2015, five city councilmen will be elected from districts and three councilmen and the mayor will be elected at-large.

At a citywide forum Tuesday afternoon, Kristen Foley, senior assistant city attorney, told a group of about 15 the city was required to create districts that are “compact, contiguous … and approximately equal population.”

Amy Emery, assistant to the city manager, said the map-makers tried to keep neighborhoods and voting precincts intact whenever possible.

“We know very much that our residents identify themselves by the subdivisions that they live in, and we didn’t want to draw districts that divided subdivisions,” she said.

Amy Emery, assistant to the city manager, reviews the proposed voting district map at a community forum Tuesday. Beginning in 2015 the city will be split into five districts. Three councilmen and the mayor will serve at large. (Melissa Jenco/Tribune)

District 1 encompasses the northwest portion of the city and extends south to 75th Street. It extends as far east as Rickert Drive, Plainfield/Naperville Road and the DuPage River.

District 2 on the northeast side of the city extends east from the river and Naperville/Plainfield Road and also uses 75th Street as a southern border for much of the district.

District 3 is on the far east side of the city. On the north, it is bounded by parts of Chicago and Prairie avenues and Hillside Road. Much of the western boundary is formed by Washington Street.

District 4 is the largest with 29,860 people. It generally encompasses the area between Route 59 on the west, Washington on the east, 75th Street on the north and 95th Street on the South.

District 5 is the smallest with 24,813 people. Emery said that area is where the most growth is expected. The district encompasses the area south of 95th Street between the DuPage River and western city limits.

Over the past several months the city held a public forum in each of the five proposed districts and received just two suggested changes.

One called for an area between Washington Street and the DuPage River to be moved into District 2 instead of District 3. Emery said only 267 people would be moved and staff feels any impact from that change would be minor.

However, it has reservations about the second proposed change that would move 1,327 people from District 3 to District 2 in order to keep all of the Highlands Elementary School attendance area in the same district. Emery said doing so could create an imbalance between the districts.

Both Emery and Chuck Schlabach, past president of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation, said they have heard from some people who do not want to switch to voting districts at all, but Schlabach said he is not aware of anyone taking steps to put a referendum on the ballot to reverse the change.

In the 2010 referendum, roughly two-thirds of those who voted approved changing to a district system. However, critics point out thousands didn’t vote at all.

Overall Schlabach said members of the confederation have not had any major complaints about how the city has drawn the district map.

“There are still more questions, but it’s been well accepted so far,” he said.

The proposed map will be presented to the City Council in August for review. Residents wanting to find out what district they would be in can go to http://gis.naperville.il.us/mashups/districts/ and type in their address.

In preparation for the switch to districts, councilmen who run in 2013 will do so for two-year terms. In 2015, all seats will be up for election. District councilmen will be running for four-year terms at that time and at-large councilmen will serve for two years in order to stagger the elections in the future, according to City Clerk Pam LaFeber. In 2017, those at-large representatives will revert to four-year terms.

For more information or to comment on the proposed map visit http://www.naperville.il.us/districts.aspx.

 

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