This editorial was published in the Bloomington Pantagraph.
Politicians regularly forget, ignore or otherwise fail to fulfill campaign trail promises. That fact is as reliable as the daily sunrise.
One of the promises made by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was an end to the maddening practice of gerrymandering, the redrawing of political districts designed to favor those designing the map, potential splitting cities and neighborhoods. Pritzker vowed to support an independent commission to draw legislative maps. "I have supported this effort for years,” he wrote as a candidate in 2018. He donated $50,000 to a fair maps initiative in 2014.
Republicans are complaining that Pritzker is now conveniently forgetting that pledge. As recently as January, Pritzker's spokesman said “has been clear he will veto a partisan map.” But now he says the Democrats’ map was fair after the 2010 population count and he trusts them to be fair again.
Both parties have recently abused the map-drawing process. The 2011 map drawn by Democrats forced incumbent Republicans into the same district to either face primaries against each other or abandon re-election. Republicans did the same thing in 1991 when they drew the maps. In 1982, courts determined the Illinois maps discriminated against racial minorities and they were sent back to the legislature.
Pritzker says it's too late for an independent commission, which would require amending the Illinois Constitution. But Pritzker has also said if there were not an amendment, he would still support the creation of an independent commission. Illinois House Assistant Minority Leader Tim Butler, R-Springfield, says he has a bill ready, but it's being blocked by Democrats.
Of all the wearying things that comprise Illinois' "politics as usual," this is the most frustrating. Things stay the same because of arguing over inaction. That's part of the reason Pritzker defeated Bruce Rauner in the governor race. Those sick of the inaction that was a trademark of Rauner's term voted for something -- anything -- different.
Democrats shouldn't have to be cajoled on this one. Pritzker changed direction midstream, reversing field on what had been a significant platform in his campaign. He shouldn't have to be reminded of that.
District boundaries are what end up providing the opening guidelines for ruling and representing. Remind your senators and representatives -- and your governor -- of what "fair" means. Taking a stand on this issue shouldn't be this difficult.