When Wards Collide: Waguespack Walks 'New', 'Old' Lines

Aldermanic offices, like that of 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack, have, in some ways, started implementing the 2012-approved "new" ward boundaries. Read on to learn when those boundaries are considered versus the "old" (or current) o

On paper, the ward remap that was approved by the Chicago City Council in January 2012 doesn't go into effect until 2015.

But the new ward boundaries are already being implemented in some aspects of the city's day-to-day operations, with a more comprehensive plan—from a city services standpoint—expected sometime this spring.

Paul Sajovec, chief of staff for 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack, said there's a precedent for this kind of early adoption.

" ... What has happened in the past is that when (aldermen) identify and then approve a new ward map, (they) get together and just pick a date to quote-unquote flip the switch," Sajovec said. "From that point forward, everybody acts as if the new map boundaries are in effect."

While city services are still being carried out according to the current or "old" ward boundaries, zoning issues in areas that will change wards in the remap are currently being addressed by both wards, Sajovec said.

"As far as the committee on zoning is concerned, they are acting as though the new map is in place," he said. "I think the way it's going to work in practice until the council does take some sort of more official action to flip the switch is that, if either of the two aldermen who are involved have objections to a proposed change, they won't allow it to move forward."

While elected officials are constitutional representatives of the people who elected them—in this case, constituents within the "old" ward boundaries—Sajovec said part of the reason for serving the "new" wards now is to keep them accountable to those they'll have to answer to in the next election.

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Under the new boundaries, the 32nd Ward will lose parts of Wicker Park and gain portions of Logan Square. Waguespack said he's already setting up meetings with chambers and other neighborhood groups to discuss the changes.

"I know my process is different from some of the other aldermen, just in terms of everything in general, like how we do zoning and development, so I'm going to have to lay all of that out for people," Waguespack said.

Obstacles stand in the way of aldermen beginning to fully implement the changes. Among the biggest hurdles is the city's 311 informational database, which is still based on the old ward boundaries, Sajovec said.

"There's a limited amount of stuff that the quote-unquote new aldermen's offices can do, because we can't track the status of things (as easily)...," Sajovec said. "Whenever they decide to update the 311 service request system to ... the new boundaries, I think, is a pretty good indication that people feel as though the new map is really now the one that's in effect."

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