Rauner urges Illinois voters to demand redistricting reform, term limits
Illinois voters, regardless of party affiliation, need to have a stern conversation with their state legislators to revive redistricting after the Illinois Supreme Court decision last week that took free maps off the November ballot, Gov. Bruce Rauner said during a recent interview.
"It is so damaging to our democracy," Rauner said during a Chicago Morning Answers radio interview. "Our system is rigged, it's broken. We have gerrymandered districts. Many of them are shaped like spaghetti noodles, designed to lock in incumbents, to put all Democrats in some districts, all Republicans in others, so there's no competition, there's no choice, there's no alternative ideas debated in these races, and the people of Illinois don't have a real voice or a real choice. Democracy doesn't work on that basis."
This election year is the time for voters to bring these concerns to state legislators, Rauner said.
"It all changes when the people of Illinois put pressure on their representatives and their senators in the General Assembly, saying, 'Look guys, enough is enough. This system is broken. Put redistricting reform on the ballot, let us vote it up or down, let the people have a voice in this issue.'" Rauner said. "If the people put pressure on their state senators and their state representatives, and they're running for office right now, so the pressure can be real, people can say to their candidate, 'Hey, you either commit to putting redistricting reform on the ballot, you commit to put term limits on the ballot, or we're not going to vote for you,' and then we can change this broken system.'"
Rauner's comments came less than a week after Illinois Supreme Court justices split along party lines and issued a split decision to keep redistricting, commonly called "free maps", off the November ballot. The Independent Map Amendment referendum would have asked voters whether the Illinois Constitution should be amended and the House and Senate districts redrawn.
The ballot measure was similar to the 2014 Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment, known "Yes for Independent Maps," which also was struck down by a Cook County judge who likewise ruled it unconstitutional.
The stakes are too high not to have redistricting reform somehow move forward, Rauner said during the radio show.
"We can't fix our economy, we can't fix our school funding, we can't fix our budget to fund our human services for our most vulnerable, if we don't have a political system where politicians are held accountable for their decisions," Rauner said. "If they're always locked in office, if all are just loyal to the machine that controls Illinois politics, we'll never make long-term progress for the people of Illinois."
It isn't all about redistricting reform, Rauner said.
"We need two critical reforms," Rauner said. "One is redistricting reform so we can have competitive general elections. The other is term limits on elected officials. Term limits will be the single fastest way to change the culture in state government. Rather than patronage and cronyism and people working for a pension and for personal benefit, we'll have people who are there for the right reasons, short-term, make decisions that are common sense for the people of Illinois, then get out of office."
Rauner urged state residents to log onto FixIllinois.com to sign the petition supporting term limits. The limit Rauner said he supports for elected officials statewide, including in the General Assembly, is eight years.
"Career politicians have failed us at every level for years," Rauner said. "More of the same isn't going to fix our problems."