Republicans make noise at 43rd Ward remap meeting

On January 11, several hundred 43rd Ward residents gathered at DePaul to protest City Council’s proposed ward map. The map was an extreme example of gerrymandering, and broke Lincoln Park into five different wards.

During the hearing, some former Aldermen spoke first, followed by the heads of the seven community groups, followed by Chris Cleveland, representing the 43rd Ward Republicans.

Statement of Chris Cleveland, 43rd Ward Republican Committeeman before the Rules Committee of the Chicago City Council, January 11, 2012

Thank you, Chairman Mell and Alderman Smith, for agreeing to hear me today.

I’m Chris Cleveland, Republican Committeeman of the 43rd Ward.

I’m here to support the traditional boundaries of the 43rd Ward as expressed on the Taxpayer Protection Map.

In preparing for my testimony today I had occasion to look at Chicago Ward Maps from the 1930s. A copy is attached. The boundaries of the 43rd Ward as proposed on the Taxpayer Protection Map are substantially the same shape they were in 1930. Over the years later the lines were moved a bit north, but the community remained together under one or at most two Alderman, as it does today.

There’s a reason for this. Lincoln Park is a community in the truest sense. It has always been recognized as such in the political life of the City. It is a place where the people come together, just ordinary citizens to give of their time and effort, to make this area the most liveable neighborhood in the most liveable city in the country.

Lincoln Park went through a period of decline in the mid part of the last century. In response, community groups sprung up to combat the gangs and the urban decay. They succeeded, and today these seven groups remain the core force behind the neighborhood improvement efforts and the festivals that make this a great place to live. Today, these groups fall mostly or entirely within the boundaries of the 43rd Ward.

I come here today a resident, and as father raising a family here. But I’m also here in my capacity as the Republican Committeeman of the 43rd Ward.

The potential destruction of Lincoln Park as a political entity has drawn together people this evening from across the political spectrum. Democrat and Republican, left and right, we agree that we should be kept together as a community.

Republicans have not had a voice in the remap process, but I hope that you give us some consideration tonight. 40% of the 43rd Ward votes Republican. 40% of the people in this room are Republican.

It is our view that crazy, misshapen districts are not good public policy. They serve the cause of racial politics and incumbent protection, and not the cause of communities like ours.

It is our view that the fiscal condition of the City is not helped by a map that invites expensive litigation.

We have real, day-to-day issues to deal with in the ward, and it will be difficult if not impossible if the community is split in five pieces. We need one or two ward offices, not five which are located miles apart. And we need an Alderman who lives here.

We ask that you not sweep away 80 years of history in the name of political expediency. Thank you for your consideration.

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