Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer (6th Ward) released this letter about the ward remap today.
January 31, 2012
Dear 6th Ward Family:
I know there has been a great deal of concern about the ward remap and the effect that it will have on the communities of the 6th Ward. First, I would like to mention that the ordinance is silent on an effective date of the new map which means that the ward boundaries will likely take effect for the next city elections in 2015. Therefore city responsibilities should remain with the current alderman until a new council is elected. Secondly, I do disagree with the process under which the remap was done and that is why I voted no. People will continue to debate the Census numbers that drove the process; however, with the numbers being the numbers, our challenge remained how we can maintain strong representation for our communities within city government.
I worked with the Black Caucus map for the goal of maintaining maximum representation of African-American Aldermen in the city council. While the initial map proposal was not my preference my negotiations were guided by a few core principles. First, I believe in the strength of communities. Throughout my entire life I have been focused on the strength of communities and their organizations more than any particular political boundaries. However, I do share the view that communities get hurt when split by too much representation, and therefore keeping a community wholly in one ward was important to me. This is why I was working to keep all of Chesterfield, West Chesterfield or Roseland Heights in one ward, whether it was mine or not, and that is why I am against the gerrymandered sections in this current map that needlessly divide natural neighborhood boundaries.
But I also want to be clear that my job is to represent the 6th Ward. If you are within those political boundaries, we have a standard of service that we will provide you; however, if you are drawn into another ward that does not mean that an individual on the next block is no longer a neighbor. One of my major initiatives upon entering office was to promote people attending their local community meetings. A strong Chatham, Park Manor, Greater Grand Crossing, Chesterfield, West Chesterfield, Roseland Heights or Englewood will be a strong community no matter what ward they are in. An active community pushes their representation for results and votes that representation from office if it does not meet its standards. The same goes for any other entity, school or business that enters a strong community. Entities should have a vision and a plan, but they cannot and must not set the standards for the residents of a community.
I have lived in the 6th Ward my entire life. I remember when the ward went much further east and when the southern border was anywhere from 79th to 101st street. In all that time the 6th Ward has always represented a certain standard and that will never change. It is my honor to continue to serve those that elected me this past May and I know that my strong community partners will benefit the 8th and 9th Wards, while I look forward to introducing my new residents to what it means to be in the 6th Ward.