45th Ward to pick up Wildwood, part of Edgebrook and areas near Onahan School, OLV under proposed remap, while no major changes for several other Far NW Side wards
by BRIAN NADIG
Wildwood and a significant portion of Edgebrook would switch from the 41st to 45th Wards, while the vast majority of the 38th and 39th wards would stay intact under the city’s proposed ward boundaries for the 2023 election.
The biggest winner on the Far Northwest Side may have been Alderman James Gardiner (45th), who would lose at least six precincts in the Old Irving Park and Independence Park neighborhoods that former alderman John Arena won in 2019. Gardiner dominated the precincts north of Irving Park Road, finishing with just over 50 percent of the Ward-wide vote and thus avoiding a runoff with two-term incumbent Arena, whose Portage Park home would fall into the 38th Ward under the proposed remap.
Gardiner said that the remapping process has not been finalized but that “no matter how the map ends up, I’m honored to serve.”
Alderman Napolitano (41st) said that he does not want to give up Edgebrook but that his ward had to lose a significant number of homes in order to get down to the 55,000 per-ward threshold. The 41st Ward also would lose some area around Onahan School, as the 45th Ward would have a narrow section of homes within a few blocks of Nagle Avenue north of Peterson Avenue, allowing for the ward’s eventual connection to Edgebrook.
“I don’t want to lose anyone, (but) I had to lose about 4,000 people in population. That’s how much we’ve grown,” Napolitano said. He added that additional neighborhoods in the 41st Ward would have had to been split up if he kept Edgebrook.
Edgebrook is no stranger to being split. Over the years some community leaders have called for all of Edgebrook to be in one ward, but it’s been shuffled — almost like a political game of musical chairs — among the 39th, 41st and 45th wards for decades.
Also on the proposed map, the 45th Ward would gain some blocks around the closed Our Lady of Victory Church, which is currently in the 38th Ward, which would have few significant overall changes.
Also remaining relatively untouched is the 39th Ward, which would continue to include Sauganash, Mayfair, Forest Glen, much of Albany Park, parts of Old Irving Park and Gladstone Park, and the south and east sections of Edgebrook. One new change would be the addition of a section of Budlong Woods, extending portions of the ward’s eastern boundary to California Avenue, Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th).
Nugent said that she came close to her goal of not losing one constituent. “I fought hard to keep these boundaries,” she said. “I like what I do. I really love the 39th Ward.”
The proposed map was released, but not voted on, at a special City Council meeting on Dec. 1, and the council now has several months to approve the map, but some say the process could be over by the end of January. “It’s been very open,” Nugent said, adding that all of the aldermen were invited to meet with the Rules Committee’s designated map maker.
If a proposed map does not get 41 voted by around mid-May, the matter could be put up to a referendum in June if a second or third map were be endorsed by at least 10 aldermen. It’s not clear if one aldermen can endorse more than one map, and clarification from the city Law Department and state election officials will be needed, according to several aldermen.
Many members of the Latino Caucus have expressed opposition to the proposed map from Rules Committee chair Michelle Harris, who did not release a copy of the map until after the start of the council meeting on Dec. 1. They argue that any map should have two new additional Hispanic-majority wards (from the current total of 13) given the recent population changes. The Harris map offers 14 Hispanic-majority wards.
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) said that he expects more members from the caucus, which has issued its own map, will come to the negotiating table in the coming weeks in an effort to avoid a referendum and to bring about some possible changes to the proposal presented at the council meeting. He said that that the proposed city map from Harris probably has 36 “yes” votes at this point, and that it would be difficult for any other map to come out on top in a referendum.
Sposato is very familiar with the remapping process, as he won the 36th Ward aldermanic election in 2011, but was then mapped out of the ward months later. He later moved his home and was elected 38th Ward alderman in 2015 and re-elected in 2019.
Sposato said that he doesn’t want what happened to him to happen to other aldermen and that the current mapping process has been handled well by Harris.
Sposato said that the 38th Ward has 57,720 residents under the current proposal. “It’ll probably be the biggest ward in the city,” he said, adding that he is planning to run for re-election for what would be a fourth term in the council.
The map released at the meeting appears to have the support of the Black Caucus, most White aldermen and some Hispanic aldermen, Sposato said.
(As of Wednesday evening, the city has not released a clear copy of the proposed map.)