A drastic makeover for the City of Austin approved by voters last November is now taking shape, but not everyone is pleased with its progress.
The city will soon be carved into 10 different districts, each with one representative on council and one mayor--called the 10-1 plan. Right now, all council members are at large.
An Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has its first maps drawn of the new districts. At a meeting Wednesday evening, southwest Austin resident Yvonne Massey Davis said she wanted to make sure the community has a say as the maps progress.
"I'd like to see your meetings remain transparent," she said.
Less than a minute after Massey Davis spoke those words, the chair of this commission, Magdalena Blanco, attempted to end public input and get on with business.
"We need the process to work,” she said. “We need to get the work done, so we can really put this out there and get comments."
Fellow commissioners voted in favor of continuing the public discussion. Among the concerns with the preliminary map is that it looks nothing like the ones submitted by neighborhood groups and 10-1 advocates.
Cynthia Valedez with Austinites for Geographic Representation said Latinos are marginalized in the commission's first draft.
"I don't know who was involved in the drawing of these maps,” Valedez said. “I don't know why the lines were drawn that way, but I know we are at least 37 percent of the population of the City of Austin."
The loudest voices Wednesday night undoubtedly were from Southwest Austin. Right now, Oak Hill and Circle C are split up and connected east to west via Slaughter Lane.
"That district is not a community of interest,” southwest Austin resident Ed Scruggs said. “When people think of 10-1, they think of electing someone that knows where the potholes are because they run over them every day."
Commissioners need to draw a map that reflects Austin's ethnic makeup without dividing neighborhoods. That requires at least one district that favors an African-American council member, and as many as four districts that favor Latinos.
The maps should also have about 80,000 people per district. Right now, some are off by as many as 30,000. Commissioners hope to finish drawing the first lines by Saturday and tweak district lines through December.
The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has a new website. It features both the commission's map and the maps submitted by others. Click here to take a look.