I attended and spoke at the Kankakee County Board meeting on behalf of the Illinois Democratic Women of Kankakee County (IDW of KC) to ask the county board to rescind the district maps that are unfair to women and minorities.

Several board members and one county official tried to defend the map with platitudes and misdirection. You can see it on YouTube. However, actions speak louder than words. Out of the six women on the board, four were put into primaries. Out of the 17 men on the board, only one was put into a primary. This means 67 percent of the female board members were put into primaries compared to 6 percent of the male members. Also, 40 percent of the African-American board members were placed into primaries. Thank you to the brave souls who voted in favor of a more inclusive county board. They stood on the right side of history — with the disenfranchised.

IDW of KC was founded two years ago to encourage women to become involved locally in the political process and to run for office. Last year, IDW of KC helped elect the former president of the Illinois Democratic Women of Kankakee County and another member to the county board. Both are targeted in this map. We have a female vice president of the United States of America. At a time when women are running and winning across this nation, the Kankakee County board leadership sadly forced women county board members into primaries against each other.

You also can watch the redistricting committee on Sept. 15. One person on the board spent about 50 to 60 hours with the map using the updated census data. Yet they did not spend five to six minutes telling the county board how women were going to be affected with the boundary changes at the subsequent county board meeting Oct. 12. Despite public input in the beginning of the redistricting process, there was no public input once the census data was available and the revised map was presented.

There is no way this map is not an attempt to reduce women’s numbers on the board, especially those who challenged the leadership. They can say a woman can run in any district, but the advantages of being an incumbent are well-documented. Women in Kankakee County must demand equality and a seat at the table.

It is disheartening this is happening in our county in 2021. Women first fought for the right to vote and then to hold elected office. They need to have a voice in the decisions made in Kankakee County government. This map reduces the chances of women having that voice.

Marlene Aumiller

Communications secretary, Illinois Democratic Women of Kankakee County