Austin commissioners charged with redrawing the boundaries of 10 Metropolis Council districts clearly have their work lower out for them. For one, they’re obligated to carry public hearings in every of the ten districts, but the primary two boards drew solely a skeleton crew of residents to the areas of city which can be dwelling to Austin’s most energetic voters – districts 9 and 10.
The surge of the Delta variant of Covid-19 is probably going a key issue within the low turnout, along with quite a few different competing priorities: summer time journey, the Council price range course of and the continued legislative particular session wherein voting rights are on the road.
However Christina Puentes, who chairs the Impartial Residents Redistricting Fee, is hopeful phrase will unfold extra shortly as the general public boards proceed wending their manner throughout town, with seven district hearings remaining. (The District 7 listening to passed off Saturday.)
“Our largest challenge is attempting to get extra residents to come back to our occasions and share about their districts,” Puentes mentioned. “In any other case, we’re drawing the maps primarily based on what we’ve got within the census, which we’ll get subsequent month, and naturally primarily based on prior information and what we’ve got from the 2013 maps. However what’s helpful about these boards is that we hear from all people else and take that enter into consideration in understanding the size of native neighborhoods and communities and ensuring these keep intact throughout the district.”
“The dedication of those that are attending is there,” Vice Chair Luis Gonzalez added. “Now it’s all about getting the phrase out and having folks attend.”
A few of the unique framers of a 10-1 Council system of governance are following the method intently, significantly the native NAACP, which has shaped a coalition led by Nelson Linder and Peck Younger.
The most important change because the unique maps had been formed is the extra 200,000 individuals who have moved to Austin, with District 6 absorbing the most important share of that progress.
Whereas it’s common to see acquainted faces on metropolis commissions, the ICRC marks the primary time Puentes and Gonzalez are serving on a fee, a lot much less an impartial panel that’s not appointed by Metropolis Council.
The 2 mentioned they knew they might make a very good workforce as chair and vice chair once they exchanged telephone numbers and realized they shared the identical South Texas space code. Puentes got here to Austin to attend the College of Texas, then taught public faculty for 5 years and have become excited by schooling coverage, significantly because it pertains to fairness. She then enrolled within the LBJ Faculty of Public Affairs and is at the moment finishing her grasp’s diploma.
Considered one of Puentes’ class tasks concerned working with Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion to assist get broadband and different companies to the japanese and northeastern corners of Travis County. She took a category taught by former U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke on voter illustration and the continued struggle for democracy. Each of these experiences served to spark her curiosity in making use of for a seat on the ICRC.
Gonzalez additionally landed in Austin to attend UT and is at the moment an government assistant to the CEO of a lighting firm. His prior work expertise, each at UT and at Dell Medical Faculty, helped inform his curiosity in neighborhood activism and operating for native workplace. He went by way of the ATXelerator program, a coaching floor of types for future leaders.
“I realized loads concerning the interior workings of town and I realized concerning the penalties of redistricting on the state degree and native degree. At the moment, I assumed I needed to run for native workplace and shortly realized I used to be not prepared,” Gonzalez mentioned, including that he utilized for the fee figuring out he could be ineligible to run for native workplace for 10 years below ICRC necessities.
The fee’s subsequent public discussion board shall be held tomorrow in District 8. Its subsequent common assembly shall be held just about at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Right here’s the whole listing of upcoming boards:
- District 8: July 27, 6-8 p.m., Girl Fowl Johnson Wildflower Heart, 4801 La Crosse Ave.
- District 4: July 31, 2-4 p.m., Gus Garcia Recreation Heart, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane
- District 6: Aug. 3, 6-8 p.m., Spicewood Springs Department Library, 8637 Spicewood Springs Street
- District 3: Aug. 7, 1-3 p.m., Ruiz Department Library, 1600 Grove Blvd.
- District 2: Aug. 10, 6-8 p.m., Mendez Center Faculty, 5106 Village Sq. Drive
- District 1: Aug. 14, 1-3 p.m., George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Heart, 1165 Angelina St.
- District 5: Aug. 17, 6-8 p.m., Manchaca Street Library, 5500 Manchaca Street
- Digital public discussion board, August, date and time pending
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