Lake County

Lake County (Tribune illustration / March 12, 2012)

Lake Forest has passed a resolution, which may be the state's first, urging voters to learn about efforts to put an amendment on the November ballot calling for an apolitical means of changing legislative district boundaries.

Yes for Independent Maps began a statewide campaign last summer to collect signatures from 300,000 registered voters by May 4 to put the question to voters.

Maps' campaign manager, Michael Kolenc, who recently addressed the Lake Forest council, said in an interview, "since we need 300,000 signatures, that means we are aiming much higher than that. We're not publicly releasing a signature count now, but we're well on our way to meeting our goal."

"There's widespread, non-partisan excitement on this kind of reform," said Kolenc, who is stationed in the group's Chicago headquarters. "We've seen that excitement through the activity of our volunteers as we've traveled around the state."

The Lake Forest-Lake Bluff League of Women Voters has endorsed the initiative.

"The League of Women Voters (of Illinois with about 40 local chapters) is one of our great coalition members," Kolenc said. "We are truly a bipartisan campaign, with Republicans and Democrats and independents on board, because they all agree this is the best reform for the state."

A similar effort two years ago failed to get the needed signatures. Mary Mathews, co-president of the LFLB League, said "as soon as that one was over, this particular coalition was formed and we picked it right back up again. It really is non-partisan and it's one of those issues that everyone can get behind. Everyone understands that (unfair, gerrymandered legislative maps) are a real problem."

Kolenc said volunteers will be seeking signatures anywhere people gather.

"Volunteers go to campaign events, Rotary Clubs, forums by the League of Women's Women Voters and local, chamber of commerce luncheons. We have people going door to door, to grocery stores, basketball games, anywhere. We leave it up to the volunteers where to go."

Social media is being used to drive people to our website," he said.

The Yes for Independent Maps website states that, in Illinois, "The latest redistricting process continued the longstanding practice of protecting favored incumbents and punishing political foes. Overall, 97 percent of incumbent state legislators won their general election race; two-thirds did not face a challenger. The key to accountability is an open, transparent process in which the public is involved and independent commissioners (charged with drawing legislative maps) know they are being watched by all citizens."

Susan Banks, Lake Forest's communications manager, said the city manager intended to take the resolution to the Illinois Municipal League and the Northwest Municipal Conference, for consideration. The city website has a PDF packet with 20 pages of information on the initiative.

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