Sen. Laura Fine gets to know new constituents after redistricting incorporates all of Evanston in her district


Illustration by Carly Schulman

State Sen. Laura Fine said she spent the past month knocking on doors to learn what issues her new constituency cares about most.

Shannon Tyler, Assistant City Editor

Every decade, each state redistricts legislative and congressional districts to account for population changes. As part of the new state senate map, the entirety of Evanston is a part of the 9th district, including a portion of South Evanston that was previously part of the 7th district.

Since Illinois approved its new districts in 2021, Evanston is fully represented by State Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview), who just won reelection. Before Tuesday’s election, a portion of South Evanston from Howard Street to about Case Street was a part of the 7th district represented by state Sen. Mike Simmons (D-Chicago).

Fine told The Daily she is “thrilled” to represent all of Evanston, since she was already representing a majority of the city. She also said she takes seriously the responsibility to represent the entire city’s diverse population.

“To make sure that everybody feels like they have a voice and that voice is heard, that is what is so important,” Fine said. “To make sure that everything we do is looked at, through a lens of inclusivity, so everybody can feel like they’re a part of it.”

With both districts leaning left, all residents remained under Democratic representation before and after the midterms.

The state legislature determined the redistricting process, and some political advocates accused Illinois of districting unfairly and gerrymandering certain areas.

CHANGE Illinois advocates for ethics and efficiency in the state’s government and elections. Ahead of the election, the coalition outlined changes they wished to see in the redistricting process.

The organization said it wanted to see more outreach in the community regarding redistricting meetings and clear ways to get involved with the process. Syamala Krishnamsetty, former advocacy director at CHANGE Illinois, testified to a redistricting subcommittee meeting in 2021.

“There are a number of community and good government organizations whose
representatives have testified and all of us, independently, have said the Senate and House committee meetings need more transparency,” Krishnamsetty wrote. “A fair map doesn’t result from simply holding hearings.”

To avoid legislators determining their own districts, the coalition urged Illinois to adopt independent committees for the redistricting process — a system already used by other states including Colorado. Fine was the sub-vice-chair of the redistricting committee for her district.

Derrick Jordan, a South Evanston resident, said he is concerned about how redistricting serves certain political parties. He pointed to Georgia’s redistricting’s process as an example of gerrymandering, which the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia challenged unsuccessfully in court.

“I find that a lot of redistricting in the country… has been sort of deceptive in how it has been done,” Jordan said. “I’m not saying that is the case here. I am just generalizing a lot of redistricting efforts.”

Derrick said he hadn’t considered his change in state senate representation much, but he hopes Sen. Fine does the “right thing” for his new district.

“Let’s give (Sen. Fine) the benefit of the doubt, but at the end of the day, she is gonna have to do the work, gonna have to produce for the people of the city of Evanston,” Jordan said

Leading up to the election, Fine said she focused on campaigning door-to-door to get to know the voters in her district and learn which issues mattered most to them. She said issues ranged from abortion rights to education and the economy.

The 9th district encompasses Northwest Cook County suburbs including Glenview, Winnetka and Northfield. Fine said she understands residents in areas closer to Chicago have different needs than those further away from the city.

“I can’t tell you the hundreds of people that I have talked to,” Fine said. “I’ve left their doorsteps knowing, ‘Okay, this is what’s important to that person and that household, and this is what we can do to work together to make sure that those needs are met.’”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @shannonmtyler

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