Plan to radically remodel 6th Congressional District draws criticism

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There is criticism of a plan to radically reshape suburban Illinois’ 6th Congressional District and potentially pit two outgoing representatives against each other for a seat.

Represented by two-term Democrat Sean Casten of Downers Grove, the current 6th District includes parts of the northwest and western suburbs. It includes tracks from Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

District boundaries will change ahead of the June 2022 primary election, as Illinois’ population declined between the 2010 and 2020 censuses, which cost the state one of its 18 congressional districts.

The latest proposal for 6 eliminates portions of Lake, McHenry and Kane counties now in the district, as well as portions of northwest DuPage and northwest Cook counties. Conversely, it expands eastward to include more southwestern Cook County.

It would have much of the western and southwestern suburbs within its boundaries, including Downers Grove, Lombard, Villa Park, Lisle, Westmont, Darien, LaGrange, Hickory Hills, Orland Park, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge, and Tinley Park.

It would also move U.S. Rep from 3rd District Marie Newman, a first-term Democrat from La Grange, to the proposed 6th District, possibly setting up a Democratic primary with Casten. Newman could also be re-elected in District 3, as members of Congress are not required to live in the district they represent.

A spokesperson for the Casten campaign declined to comment on the proposed card. A representative for Newman could not be reached.

Princeton’s non-partisan project Gerrymandering looked at the proposed map for partisan fairness, competitiveness and geography and said it “got F’s at every level.”

The group criticized cartographers for creating boundaries that give Democratic incumbents a “significant” advantage, “for creating districts that are not compact, and for dividing counties more than usual.

Illinois’ 17 proposed congressional seats, including that in District 6, are “outside the competitive zone,” according to the group said on twitter.

Republican congressional hopeful Justin Burau of Winfield, a declared 6th arrondissement candidate, also blew up the proposed limits.

Burau’s house – along with parts of Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, and other neighboring communities – has been removed from the district.

“The Democrats have completely removed the voice of what was once the heart of the 6th arrondissement,” said Burau.

Burau could still show up in the 6th, but said he won’t decide for sure until a card is finalized.

“I entered this race for the right reasons, to make a difference,” he said. “Once the Democrats formalize their gerrymandered card, my team and I will see what makes the most sense to give a voice back to the people of our community.”

Another Republican candidate in the 6th arrondissement, Niki Conforti of Glen Ellyn, could not be reached.

Representatives of Congress are not required to live in the districts they serve. But candidates who run outside their home district are often castigated as baggage handlers.

The General Assembly is expected to discuss the proposed card on Thursday or Friday. Implementation requires its approval and a signature by Governor JB Pritzker.



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