Some on the Springfield City Council aren’t happy with the newly drawn ward map, but at least one of the men running for mayor thinks it’s a good map.
Sangamon County Auditor Paul Palazzolo says it’s good the council followed the unwritten goal of ensuring at least one ward has a 60-percent African-American population.
“We made sure that we did the right thing in the big picture of representation,” Palazzolo told WTAX’s Joey McLaughlin on Thursday’s Morning Newswatch. “We’re going to move forward with the map, and it’s a good thing. The [City] Council can be appreciated and praised for what it did.”
A lawsuit in the 1980’s resulted in a consent decree that states at least one ward should have a majority-minority population to ensure minority representation on the city council. Having that population at 60 percent isn’t a written rule, but a “gentleman’s agreement” was derived that 60 percent should be the goal.
The approved map puts Ward 2 at 60 percent, but a map preferred by other aldermen would have put the number at 57 percent.
“It was really kind of understood that slipping backwards in that percentage probably would have started a slippery slope,” said Palazzolo. “The council resisted that change to reduce that percentage, and wisely so.”
Palazzolo did hint, however, that eventually aldermen might not need to worry about the consent decree, pointing to other elections where black aldermen were elected in predominately white wards: Allan Woodson in Ward 10, a predominately white ward, in 1987 and 1991, and Roderick Nunn in Ward 6, predominately white, in 1999.