Bernas supports redistricting because it brings an equitable voice to the capital
Jillian Bernas, the House District 56 candidate is holding out hope for redistricting reform after the Independent Map Amendment that was recently struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Independent Map Amendment seeks to allow voters to redraw the legislative map via a nonpartisan and independent commission. This amendment was aimed at helping strengthen minority voting rights, protect the interests of all voters and limit incumbency.
It also is meant to give power back to the voters. That power, however, has been challenged, according to Bernas.
After the amendment was dumped by the Illinois Supreme Court, Gov. Bruce Rauner has asked the General Assembly to take up the initiative this fall.
"They said it can't go on the ballot if it's done by voter referendum," Rauner said. "It can only be put on by the General Assembly putting it on the ballot for a vote. So I'm calling on all the members of the General Assembly. Do the right thing, represent the people of Illinois, vote to put fair maps, redistricting reform, on the ballot so that the people of Illinois — all of you — can decide yourselves whether we should have maps for the elections that are not partisan, so we can have competitive general elections."
Whether or not the amendment ultimately succeeds in the General Assembly or in later election years, Bernas believes it is a good initiative because it brings a certain fairness and impartial voice to Springfield.
“I am supporting it because it takes the job of drawing maps away from politicians and gives it to people," she said. "And I think that anytime you can give individual more power over politicians, you get more equitable decisions. And right now, those maps are drawn to guarantee certain outcomes. It’s drawn where you predictably find Republicans and Democrats, and not on normal geographical boundaries or community boundaries.”
These boundaries stymie potential competition during elections, according to Bernas.
“I think that what happens [with the current district map] is that you limit people who are interested in taking on leadership roles from running, so you don’t have competitive elections when the outcomes of each district are so predictable," she said. "So that’s why I support it. I think that it will definitely make the outcomes more equitable and also encourage people who wouldn’t have thought to run, to run.”
She also believes that, through redistricting, certain career politicians will find it harder to remain in their seats because of competition.
“Right now, if you look at the elections in the state, there are quite a few incumbents that go uncontested," Bernas said. "So no matter what you do, they don’t have a viable second option that the voters can chose from. We see that quite a bit because they districts are drawn so that it strongly favors Democrats.”
Furthermore, she hopes the amendment, if it is successful, will bring a fairer representation of the districts. Districts are tired of being left without a voice and displeased with the mismanagement in Springfield, Bernas said. Such negligence has led to the state paying more than $900 million in late fees and owing more than $56 billion in state employee health care debt.
“This is a consequence of not having a budget for years and years, continuing to spend more money than the state takes in, and also making more decisions of where to allocate resources,” Bernas said. “So when you don’t have a budget or when you don’t pay your bills, just like a family who doesn’t pay their bills, there are going be late fees and consequences. And all families who have to pay those … they do their best to avoid them by budgeting”
Sound financial budgeting is something that hasn’t been seen in Springfield for years, but it is something that Bernas hopes to work on if she gets elected.
”That’s one thing we haven’t done at a state level,” she said. “We haven’t had a balanced budget for the past couple of years, and that’s why it’s so important. I’m hoping that the budget would be passed by November. It’s something that, upon my election, I hopefully would be able to work on and pass a balanced budget so we don’t have to pay these late fees.”
Bernas is eager is fix the budget so that important programs and services that serve the community may be funded appropriately instead of letting the money go to waste.
“There are many programs and services that need money right now,” Bernas said. “But because of the decisions of the current legislatures who haven’t prioritized the needs of the community and who put money toward pet projects or insufficiently ran programs, that money has been wasted.”
Bernas has until November is hitting the campaign trail hard, reminding her neighbors and constituents why she is running: for home.
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