House Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said gerrymandering must end now.
Surrounded by four of his GOP peers, Durkin said Republican lawmakers stood in solidarity and complete unison to encourage independent redistricting reform.
“Today the House caucus filed HR995 with all 51 members as co-sponsors, which shows broad support for maps to be drawn without regard to incumbency and partisanship,” Durkin said at a Wednesday press conference in Springfield.
House Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs)
Independent redistricting should and will allow voters to choose a candidate based on the issues and policies important to them, Durkin added.
“Let the voters decide once and for all,” Durkin said.
It is unacceptable that partisan politics involved in the map-making process has skewed years of election results throughout Illinois, according to the House leader.
“We are long overdue for an independent map drawing process that will protect voters' rights and create a more transparent process while making legislative races more competitive with more qualified candidates running for office,” Durkin said.
With facts to back up his agreement, the state representative cited Paul Simon Public Policy Institute research that 72 percent of Illinois residents, including the majority of Republicans and Democrats, support the creation of an independent legislative redistricting commission.
“Fifty-two percent of that 72 said they were in strong favor of it,” Durkin said.
Guess who also shares those same views, he asked, answering Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker.
“Both said they would veto gerrymandering maps,” Durkin said.
Gerrymandering is not just an Illinois issue, according to Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield), who said partisan politic legislative mapping is gaining steam on a national level, and a voter referendum to determine redistricting would have been available in the last election had it not been for the Democrats.
“Yet, the speaker and his team of legal experts decided to take it to court and get it thrown off the ballot for a technicality,” Butler said. “And that is really a shame.”
After Butler said fair maps are more important than term limits, Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) said time is of the essence.
“We are up against a deadline, and we need to have this passed through the House by April 27 and the first week of May for the Senate,” Hammond said.
It is lawmakers' duty to deliver what the voters want, Hammond added.
The future of politics is on the line in the present issue, according to Rep. Nick Sauer (R-Libertyville).
“We need to make sure we can have people who can come to the table fairly and run for office openly,” Sauer said.
Like Hammond, Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria), who held a press conference earlier in the afternoon with Change Illinois calling for the end of gerrymandering, said there is no time to waste.
“We are up against an important deadline that really will make the decisions on whether or not our voters this fall are given the opportunity as so many times they have asked for,” Spain said.
Durkin concluded saying the product of one-party rule due to gerrymandering must end, and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) should take heed to the GOP’s request.
“We have done this multiple times over the last couple of years to let the voters have their say on whether or not legislators should be the ones that have the pen and draw the maps,” Durkin said.