By Christopher Neely | 12:15 PM Oct 1, 2020 CDT | Updated 11:36 AM Oct 2, 2020 CDT
In 2012, Austinites voted overwhelmingly to move into a geographical system of City Council representation, spurring the creation of 10 new districts that would each elect a representative to the City Council dais. The city is now preparing to redraw the district boundaries for the first time, an effort sure to carry political ramifications for the next decade. Three elements will determine the new look of the districts, to be finalized by November 2021 and effective by the November 2022 election: 2020 census data, the analysis and strategy of a 14-member volunteer commission, and a comprehensive community engagement process. The data will arrive by the end of March; the volunteer commission will be selected by the close of February; and community meetings will unfold between March and November. The city charter regulates the drawing of City Council districts. They should each have nearly equal population; district boundaries must touch one another; boundaries should avoid dividing established neighborhoods or communities; and they should be as compact as possible. However, government officials and residents say the ultimate goal is to provide equitable opportunity for the city’s various ethnic and racial groups to participate in local government. Overseeing the process, City Auditor Corrie Stokes said geographic representation might be the name of the system but demographic representation is the priority. Click to read more at www.communityimpact.com.