Members of the Polish American community implored a number of Aldermen to make sure their community is represented in the upcoming redistricting map at a town hall, the first of a series, that gave the public an opportunity to voice their opinion about the nature of the map that will need to be drawn to reflect the most recent census. Chicago is home to one of the biggest Polish American communities in America. About 180,000 households in the Chicagoland area speak Polish primarily in the home.
The town hall was held at North Park Village at 5801 N. Pulaski and is the closest public meeting for Ravenswood residents. Aldermen including Richard Mell, 33, Scott Waguespack, 32, and John Arena, 45, were among those in attendance.
At the meeting, a number of individuals that represent the Polish American community implored the politicians to make sure that their community is represented.
“We want to go to one Aldermanic office to take care of the needs of our community,” said Robert Groszek, an attorney. The Polish American community has its zenith on Belmont between Pulaski and Milwaukee, parts of Jefferson Park, and on Archer in the South Side. Groszek said after that the community on Belmont is covered by three different Wards (31, 35, and 30). Groszek also said he was worried that the 45th Ward might be split and splitting up that Polish American community in the process.
Michael Dubrisky agreed, “The Polish American community deserves to be represented.”
“Keeping the Polish Community is beneficial to Chicago because you can streamline services,” said Agnieszka Sobczyk of the Polish American Association.
A Polish American contractor said that within 100 feet there are three different wards and it makes it difficult to put together the necessary permits because he is always dealing with a different Aldermen.
A number of individuals also complained that the recent census under reported their community. They said that because no question on the census form is asked about which language is spoken at home, communities like the Polish American community aren’t isolated and instead fall into a larger ethnic group.
Alderman Dick Mell spoke after with Welles Park Bulldog and sounded hopeful, “We’re going to try to do the best we can. But the Polish community has moved (over time). Maybe (creating a Polish ward) is a possibility. We’ll try.”
Mell faces a difficult process pleasing all the different groups. He explained earlier that the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund has demanded that at least fourteen wards be predominantly Hispanic. The Black Caucus has also produced its own map.
Mell’s Reform and Ethics Committee will be responsible for drawing a map. Mell said he was also concerned that the final map won’t face a legal challenge. Ward maps must adhere to several nebulous principles, “compact, continuous, and relatively even.”
The next meeting is this evening, North- Grand High School (Auditorium), 4338 West Wabansia, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Patrick Boylan contributed to this report.