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McLean County Board Chair seeks bipartisan panel’s help to draw ‘fair maps’

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BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) - McLean County Board Chairman John McIntyre announced a plan Thursday night he hopes will take politics out of drawing the county board's district map for the next decade.

Deciding to stay with 10 districts instead of reducing them to five was a contentious battle, with elected leaders and community members complaining about a lack of transparency.

Speaking at the conclusion of the regular monthly board meeting, McIntyre announced he's appointing a bipartisan ad-hoc advisory committee to draw three proposed maps by the end of June.

Democratic Board Member Elizabeth Johnston and Republican Vice Chairman Jim Soeldner will advise McIntyre about who will serve on the committee. Current board members will not be on the panel.

McIntyre believes the county can accomplish something other communities and the state government have not been able to do.

"Fair maps is just something that hasn't gotten off the ground anywhere," said McIntyre.

"If we can step forward and do this, I think we can all be proud we've come up with a resolution, and hopefully it will also promote some kind of unity within this board," McIntyre said.

Hard feelings remain following the debate on the number of districts that caused rural versus urban rivalries to resurface in the county.

Creating the ad-hoc committee shows a willingness to compromise, but Republican Board Member Chuck Erickson said this effort at bipartisanship should have come sooner.

"We've all been willing to compromise," said Erickson, directing his comments to McIntyre, who is also a Republican.

Raising his voice, Erickson said, "You're not going to sit there and suggest that I've not been willing to comprise, Mr. Chairman."

Other critics of the process, including Democrats Lea Cline and Laurie Wollrab, indicated they are now on board with McIntyre's plan.

McIntyre said he'll name committee members May 24. The three proposed maps will be posted online for public review, and the committee will host public hearings.

Final county board action is expected in July.

Howard Packowitz

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