Cass County is moving forward with reapportionment of their County Board. County Clerk Shelley Wessel says that the county had to move forward using 2019 American Community Survey information to reapportion the board’s four districts.
Wessel says that despite the ACS data being disputed at the state level with lawsuits surrounding redistricting for the General Assembly, she wasn’t gerrymandering but simply attempting to follow the law on the books, which required meeting a deadline. Wessel says that the Illinois Association of County Board Members were encouraged to use the older data to remain on time: “There was no [state] legislation out there extending the date in which the [reapportionment] resolutions needed to be passed for reapportionment purposes until, I think, in May. Now, they have extended that [deadline] through December, which [the county board] went ahead and passed this resolution with the new boundary changes, and then, upon any astronomical population differences, then we would revisit that and possibly amend the resolution.”
She says that if the data is released in August for the U.S. Census that the county board would amend the upcoming map.
Wessel says there are some changes coming: “In District 1, it is still voting precincts 1-4 in Beardstown township. District 2 remained the same: precincts 5-8 and Hagener 9. District 3 now includes Bluff Springs 10, Arenzville 11, Sangamon Valley, and Virginia. Then, District 4 is Philadelphia township moved over into 4, then the rest is the same – Panther Creek, Chandlerville, Newmansville, and Ashland. We are in the 10% leeway of representation of inhabitants by each individual board member. That is why we have reapportioned in that way.”
Five current board members may end up running against each other in the new District 3 seat. Current Chairman Michael Barnett, Bob Schaeffer, Charles Haglock, Bill Merriman, and Aaron French now all are seated under the new district 3.
Wessel says that the Illinois Association of County Board Members had recommended that the county shift some of their districts to have an equal number of representatives from each district. District 4 will have 2 board members while the remaining districts will each have 3. Wessel says that the board will amend any possible change once more data is available.