Why don't we get the ball rolling RIGHT NOW? It's probably too late to change the congressional district boundaries for 2006, but for 2008, changes need to be made. I've long been aware of the partisan maps that are drawn up. But I broke out the map of just District 17 the other night, and it is simply the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. Moline, Rock Island, and Decatur...all in one district? Jeezus, did Ronnie Milsap and Stevie Wonder have input on this thing?
Here's the best and most simple solution, and one that the voters of this state, the people who HIRE these people, need to fix.
The 2000 Census says there are 12,419,293 Illinoisans. There are 20 congressmen and women from Illinois, right? Then each one should represent roughly 621,000 persons. Now, you take the map, and starting at the Northwest Corner of the state, you start drawing boxes...BOXES, not 752-sided, um, er, THINGSthat make no sense...but BOXES. Each box gets between 600,000 and 650,000 people. The districts around Lake, Dupage, Cook, etc, will all obviously be smaller, but they'll be BOXES. You campaign in your BOX.
The downstate and WESTstate (why do you people call Rockford "downstate"?) districts will be larger. Go with county lines whenever possible, (yes, that will distort the "box", but it's a damn site better than what we have now) and make sure that the man/woman who represents the interests of Sterling doesn't also pretend to represent the interests of Macoupin County 200 miles to the south (both currently in Lane Evans' District 17, BTW). Lane lives in Rock Island. How do you think the good folks of Cahokia feel knowing they're just a few miles from St. Louis, but their Congressman's office is in Rock Island? Can't just drop in and see him, can ya?
Evans won his most recent race 61-39. Ray LaHood and his self-designed district leave him with 70-30 victories. These victory margins assure them of getting elected again and again and again, and keep otherwise qualified candidates from even running, if indeed they're from the "wrong" party for their district. Is this what people really want?
Why is this so hard to change? Who were the dopes that gave the legislative members the power to do this themselves? This is a job for people that do not run for office, and have no idea who is a Democrat or who is a Republican. It would be a perfect job for some geography and population experts teaching at some of our state universities.
Who do I talk to to get change started? I know what I'm up against, but you can't change it if you don't try at all.