Winnebago County to undergo voting redistricting

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County voting districts could be undergoing some changes soon.

County Board members got a first look at what those changes could mean during a special presentation Wednesday night.

Board members believe the map shown at the presentation is a good starting point that still needs a few changes. Residents will also have a chance to weigh in before the districts are finalized.

“Every ten years, during the census, we have to sort of reallocate what neighborhoods are changing, what districts are changing. The influx of the community, who’s moving in and who’s moving out,” said Kevin McCarthy, Winnebago County Board District 11.

Board members started the process of redrawing legislative districts, and they discussed a first draft of the map Wednesday night.

“I’m looking forward to making sure we have a fair and equitable map, especially in regards to how our minority populations are represented in Winnebago County,” said Angela Fellars, Winnebago County Board District 19. “A lot of work has already gone into these maps, being done fairly and drawn equitably, but now we want to make sure that we make tweaks and any kind of changes.”

A third-party consultant helped draw the updated lines after the county received census data in late September. The numbers showed the county’s population dropped by about 10,000 over the past 10 years, from 295,000 to 285,000.

“We wanted to get the map out there for everyone to take a look at. Some board members have already talked to me about minor tweaks that they’ve requested,” said Paul Arena, Winnebago County Board District 7. “We’re going to get everyone’s wish list together, and see what we can do.”

Arena has been one of the people working on the new look map. He said shifting legislative boundaries can be tricky, and it is likely the proposal will be changed.

It needs full board approval by the end of the year.

“When you actually work on it, those populations have to stay very close. So when you change one, it effects a lot of others,” Arena said. “So, it might not be possible to accommodate everybody, but we will accommodate everyone to the extent that we are able.”

The board will hold a public hearing on the map sometime in the next three weeks. It would then move to the Operations Committee before heading back to the full board for a final vote.

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