20 Aug 2014
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Former Black Panther Could Represent New Lenox in Congress

A legal challenge is brewing against the new congressional district maps Gov. Quinn approved on Friday.

Former Black Panther Could Represent New Lenox in Congress Former Black Panther Could Represent New Lenox in Congress

Think of New Lenox. Think of Englewood, on the South Side of Chicago. What do they have in common?

If the new congressional map Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Friday morning has anything to say about it, one person will have to represent both areas' interests. Under the new map, which the GOP has vowed to challenge in court, a majority of New Lenox moves from the 11th congressional district of Tea Party darling Adam Kinzinger to 1st district of former Black Panther and Chicago Democratic stalwart Bobby Rush.

But can one man handle the varied interests from Elwood to Englewood? Or is this new map just a power play to push into GOP stronghold?

In a joint statement, Republican U.S. legislators from Illinois districts pledged to challenge the new map in court and lambasted Quinn for signing a "flawed map" into law.

"Governor Quinn said that the way in which district lines are drawn contributes to the success of our democracy," the statement reads in part. "Yet the map he approved seeks to reverse the results of a democratic election. Governor Quinn advocated for a fair and open process. Instead, he has guaranteed an unfair and closed one."

New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said the new maps don't really make sense the way they were drawn. The majority of the village will be in Rush's district, while the northwest part of town will remain in the 11th district.

"These are communities with absolutely nothing in common, in most cases," Baldermann said. "I don’t know how they expect to represent the different interests of these communities. It doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense."

Regardless of political ideology and geographic location, Baldermann hopes the new representative will open to hearing the concerns of people here.

"I’m a realist, I know how it goes. They know where their bread is buttered and where their votes come from," Baldermann said. "But that doesn’t mean we stay silent. We'll still try to have an open door and open lines of communication. As the mayor, I work with everybody regardless of political party."

Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki understands. In the last reapportionment 10 years ago, a portion of his town moved under Rush. In the new plan, nearly all of Tinley would be under the 1st.

Zabrocki said Rush has been good for his suburban community, citing examples such as Rush helping secure money for a partial interchange at Ridgeland Avenue.

"He's been very responsive to us," Zabrocki said. "Any time we had to go to him he was there."

Other area mayors weren't as sure. Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin, whose town moved from the 13th to a split between the 1st and the 3rd, called the remap "ridiculous."

View an interactive Google Map of the proposed districts.

View an interactive Google Map of the current district.

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