Mt. Vernon Register-News


April 2, 2014

Group wants redistricting

MT. VERNON — An independent group is seeking to get a Constitutional amendment on this year’s General Election ballot that would change the balance of power in legislative districts.

The Yes! for Independent Maps organization is seeking to collect nearly 450,000 signatures by May 4. To get the amendment on the ballot, 298,000 signatures are needed.

The Illinois Redistricting Amendment would establish an 11-member commission to draw the districts — essentially taking the redistricting out of the hands of legislators. In order to approve any plan, seven out of the 11 commissioners must vote for it, including at least two Democrats, two Republicans and two unaffiliated members. The proposal states interested citizens would apply to be commission members.

Michael Kolenc, campaign manager for the organization, is leading the charge for the amendment.

“The process we have right now is broken and a process that Republicans and Democrats abuse,” Kolenc said Tuesday. “Our initiative makes it transparent and independent and let’s voters decide who will represent them in Springfield.”

Kolenc said as of noon Tuesday, 346,760 signatures have been obtained.

“We’re on pace to reach our goal by the middle of this month,” Kolenc said, adding the League of Women Voters and Chambers of Commerce have been actively involved in the campaign.

Locally, the amendment is getting support from local businessman Mike Beard, who heard Kolenc speak at a legislative conference for insurance agents.

“Four years ago in the election of 2010 the League of Women Voters attempted to get this started and they didn’t get enough signatures to get it on the ballot,” Beard said.

“It’s been my observation and what I’ve been told by people that watch it close is the legislators make sure they get things changed on the Constitution before citizens can. That way they can control government better because they don’t want us involved in their leadership. With that thought in mind, every 10 years they redraw the maps, and by Constitution right now, it’s done by the party in charge. Both parties have treated the map the same way and they’ve treated it as their little play pen.”

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