Check the map — your alderman may have changed.
The Springfield City Council has approved a new ward map as it’s supposed to every ten years to reflect the latest census. Ward 2 Alderman Gail Simpson voted for a map that increased the percentage of African-Americans in her ward.
“If you get to a point where you keep eroding the percentages, you get to a point where people will say ‘well, it doesn’t matter. Let’s continue to decrease them,’” she says. “Why go back?”
The map currently in use has Ward 2 as 59 percent African-American. A consent decree from the 1980′s was put in place to ensure minority representation on the city council through a majority-minority ward, which has historically been Ward 2. What was referred to as a “gentleman’s agreement” during the council meeting outlined aldermen would try for 60 percent African-American representation, but that’s not codified in law or the decree.
Several aldermen favored a different map that would have made Ward 2 57 percent African-American instead of 60. The approved map, however, splits the Enos Park neighborhood into two wards, for example, and Ward 6 extends south of Interstate 72.
“It’s clearly not an urban… 90 percent of Ward 6 is an urban ward, but it goes completely south,” said Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe, who was the lone alderman to vote no. “It’s not really intact.”
“Stuff happens,” said Simpson, when asked to respond to Jobe’s concerns about contiguous wards.
Also a point of contention in Ward 6: the old YWCA site and adjacent parking lot, which Jobe says he worked hard to get TIF designation for, is now in Ward 2.