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New neighborhood map approved for Aurora

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Not everyone got everything they wanted this week in the new neighborhood map approved by the Aurora City Council.

Aldermen approved the map after nearly three hours of discussion at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

But the process was hanging on the fact that it would probably only be the neighborhood map for two or three years.

“No card is perfect, in my mind,” Ald said. Michael Saville, 6th Ward. “But understand that we will change it in two years. It is a palliative. »

It’s a stopgap, because the idea that Aurora was significantly shortened by the 2020 decennial U.S. census became even more evident during the remapping process, officials say.

Aurora officials believe that the Census Bureau, by stating that Aurora has a population of about 180,000, down about 18,000 from 2010, underestimated the city in 2020. Aurora has already launched its formal protest to the Census Bureau, demanding an official review. .

But if that does not yield satisfactory results, the city will probably conduct a special census as soon as possible, probably in 2024.

If there was any doubt about the undercount, it was erased by the deeper dive into the 2020 count done by Frank Calabrese, the consultant hired by the city for its remapping, officials say.

Calabrese showed that nowhere was the undercount more dramatic than in the city’s 2nd and 3rd Wards, where census tracts and even individual census blocks showed population declines of between 30% and 50% .

It doesn’t even pass the eyesight test, where people can clearly see that individual blocks haven’t lost half their population, officials said.

Also, the Census Bureau’s own numbers from the American Community Survey, an estimate taken by the bureau prior to the actual census, were significantly different from the actual census. The difference between the two showed that the 3rd arrondissement lost almost 5,000 people and the city overall lost 18,000 people.

“The census says Aurora lost 9% (of its population) and that’s not true,” Calabrese said.

The difficulty has been that the city needed to redraw its wards in preparation for the spring 2023 local elections. The new ward boundaries need to be in place before potential candidates start circulating nomination petitions.

Calabrese said the fundamental challenge was that the 2nd and 3rd Wards had to expand geographically to accommodate more people. But in doing so, neighborhoods also had to maintain their neighborhood integrity, which means that new neighborhoods had to maintain Latin American majorities or pluralities.

Calabrese had previously submitted a map to the aldermen that had one predominantly Latino neighborhood and two others where Latinos had pluralities – meaning they are the largest individual ethnic group in those neighborhoods, but not with a majority of more than 50%.

To make matters even more confusing is that in redrawing neighborhoods, the city must keep representative neighborhoods within 5% of each other in the overall population. It is the doctrine of one man, one vote in the United States Constitution, as it has been affirmed and delineated by American courts over the years. This is based on the overall population, counting everyone.

But the new neighborhoods also had to keep Hispanic neighborhoods intact, using numbers known as the Latin American Voting Age Population, known as the VAP, or Citizen Voting Age Population, known as the CVAP. Both measure voters 18 or older only.

Figures for the Latino age population are based on census figures, but the CVAP is an estimate taken from American Community Survey figures because citizenship status is not asked on the census.

What all of this meant for the Aurora council was that when the evening started, the aldermen thought they had to choose between two cards that they had reduced from four last week.

But Calabrese came up with three new maps he drew after receiving a letter from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund that threatened possible legal action if the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Wards didn’t show CVAP numbers anymore. high for Latinos.

The possibility of legal action even prompted the board to send the meeting to closed session based on a “reasonable expectation” of such action. The Beacon-News objected to closing the meeting, on the basis that the expectation of litigation had already been discussed in public.

The board met in about half an hour behind closed doors. After that, the aldermen debated the maps for more than two hours, rejecting several maps and amendments to the maps, before voting for one of the original maps Calabrese had made several weeks ago.

The map has a predominantly Latino neighborhood and two others where Latinos had pluralities according to CVAP figures. An amendment was made to remove a subdivision from the 3rd Ward and place it in the 9th Ward—where it originally stood—increasing the Latino plurality of the 3rd Ward somewhat.

One of the reasons the aldermen supported the map they made was that it was the last map they had contributed on. The aldermen had yet to see the three cards Calabrese had brought to the council meeting this week.

“I personally have to stick with this card,” Ald said. Patty Smith, 8th district. “We had comments. We know our city, we know what works.

Aldus. Emmanuel Llamas, 1st Ward, said every map except for the one City Council members ultimately approved would have divided the Latin Quarter of Pigeon Hill into the 1st Ward.

“We’ve all had comments (on this card), and now everyone’s saying, take it from 1st quarter, take it from 1st quarter,” Llamas said. “It would take away all the work we’ve done.”

Mayor Richard Irvin agreed, saying the three maps presented this week “the aldermen weren’t really involved in it.” He said city legal officials believe the map approved this week can be defended in court if challenged.

Ross Secler, an attorney legally advising the city on the redistricting, said it wouldn’t stop anyone from taking legal action, “we think (it’s) a legally defensible map.”

The aldermen agreed that the map was the best they could get, given the population figures the town had received.

“What we’re missing is almost 18,000 people, mostly Latinos, and the city is going to try to put them back on the map,” Ald said. William Donnell, 4th Ward, said.

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