PEORIA -- The Peoria County Board will decide at its May meeting whether to keep 18 single member districts or reduce the number to 17 districts. The decision could determine whether the board stays in the hands of the Democrats, who now dominate it, 10-8.
The board's redistricting committee met on April 27, and voted 3-2 to stick with 18 single member districts. The recommendation goes to the full board, but the two Republican members on the committee, Steve Morris and Mary Ardaple, said they will ask that the decision be debated on the floor by the full board.
Morris said 17 districts would mean "smaller and more efficient government," and "an odd number makes sense." Ardaple agreed.
Committee chairman Allen Mayer said most counties, including many smaller than Peoria County, have more than 18 members. But "we agree the full board should weigh in on it," he added.
After that decision is made, the committee then can proceed to draw up the County Board districts for the next decade.
Democrats could lose their control of the board because Peoria County's population has shifted to the northwest, where Republicans dominate the elections. The area in Peoria below War Memorial Drive reportedly is where a district could be cut out because it has lost population, and that's a Democratic Party area.
Mayer said after the final decision on the number of districts, a proposed map of the districts will be drawn, and the public will have two weeks to examine it.
Then the board will vote on it in June.
If a map is not filed with the Peoria County Clerk by July 1 a commission composed of the State's Attorney, County Clerk, county heads of both political parties, and a representative of the Illinois Attorney General's office will be empowered to draw the map, he said. The State's Attorney and County Clerk are both Democrats.
Precincts will be drawn after the County Board and Illinois General Assembly draw their maps, he added, in hopes of keeping precincts within other district boundaries.
The committee meets again on May 25.
-- Elaine Hopkins