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Ward Remap: Aldermen Juggling New and Old Constituents

By Victoria Johnson | January 29, 2013 3:54pm
 Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), left, Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), center, and Ald. Rey Colon (35th).
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), left, Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), center, and Ald. Rey Colon (35th).
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DNAinfo/Victoria Johnson

CHICAGO — With constituents confused about who to go to for their city service needs, some alderman are moving ahead with the new ward boundaries and asking their constituents to do the same.

Last week, head of the Zoning Committee, Ald. Danny Solis (25th), told fellow alderman to recognize the new map for zoning issues. Now, some area alderman have now decided to move ahead with the new boundaries for other issues as well.

No official date for using the new boundaries has been set by the city though voters cast ballots in their new wards in November.

Ald. Joe Moreno's (1st) office has been dealing with both new and old constituents since the new map was passed last January.

But in a Facebook post Monday afternoon, he instructed former 1st Ward constituents to go to their new respective aldermen, though added he would still help ex-constituents if needed.

 Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th).
Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th).
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Office of Ald. Ariel Reboyras

"Former residents of the 1st Ward should now rely upon their new aldermen for all constituent service requests, infrastructure repairs, zoning and development proposals, community meetings, public safety issues, street cleaning and garbage collection," he wrote. "During this transition period, please continue to contact my office if your new alderman is not responsive."

Still, the city's 311 system is still working on the old map.

"To say [the remap's] been totally enacted is jumping the gun," said Paul Sajovec, chief of staff for Ald. Waguespack, adding that new aldermen can't access information on 311 calls made by those living in another ward.

So people calling 311 to request city services such as rat baiting, graffiti removal and tree trimming, will find that they still can't follow up with the new alderman.

Martha Ramos, chief of staff for Ald. Rey Colon (35th), said Colon's staff is also continuing to assist old constituents but then asking them to in the future seek out their new alderman.

"What everyone is instructed to do here in [Colon's] office is to assist anyone in the old 35th Ward or in the new 35th Ward who reaches out to us," she said. "We don't deny anyone any services."

As for the the zoning applications, Ramos said they have forwarded all those onto the new aldermen.

"We transferred anything that was pending for zoning requests, and if they have any questions they can ask Rey," she said.

Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) recalls that it took about a year to get things straightened out the last time there was a ward remap — 10 years ago when he first took office.

He suspects the 311 system needing to be converted to the new map is holding things up this time, as well as the winter weather. Snow plows still operate on the old ward map.

"My sense is that by springtime we'll be on the new map," he said.

Until then, he said he, too, will continue to provide service to new and old constituents alike, and just keep the lines of communication open with other aldermen on zoning issues.

"We try to work it out that any [wards] around, we talk to each other so that we're on the same page," he said.