For the first time, Austin will redraw its 10 City Council districts

Austin is starting the process to redraw the boundaries for its 10 City Council districts. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin is starting the process to redraw the boundaries for its 10 City Council districts. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin is starting the process to redraw the boundaries for its 10 City Council districts. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

In 2014, Austin radically changed the shape of its city government. After nearly 200 years of electing council members from anywhere in the city with an “at-large” system, the city changed the makeup of its City Council to represent ten geographic districts, along with the mayor, elected by all city residents, in the current “10-1” system.

Those districts were drawn with the goal of making each one relatively equal in population. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data from 2010, they ranged from 77,650 residents in Southwest Austin’s District 8 to 82,381 in Northwest Austin’s District 10.

Over the course of six years, Austin’s populations have grown, and its demographics have changed. The 2020 census survey process to count each person where they live is ongoing, and that data is scheduled to be delivered to individual states no later than March 31, 2021.

Based on the new data, a commission of Austin residents will redraw the city’s 10 council districts. The process will take place over two years with the new districts in place for the November 2022 City Council elections.

It begins with City Auditor Corrie Stokes randomly choosing three certified public accountants with independent auditing experience from a pool of applicants. That team will then select the 60 most qualified individuals to serve on the commission from the pool of applicants.

Eight of those 60 applicants are then randomly chosen, and the eight commissioners choose six more people from the pool, giving the commission a total of 14 individuals who go through the process in 2021 to adopt the final boundaries.

Applications for both the citizen commission and the panel of CPAs who will select commissioners opened June 1.

Once the citizen commission to redraw the boundaries is selected, those individuals will use public input, census data and a list of criteria to redraw the maps. Criteria include making the ten new districts have relatively equal populations, keeping neighborhoods together and making districts compact.

The Texas Legislature will handle redistricting on a state and federal level in 2021. Texas is expected to gain at least three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a jump from 36 to 39. In 2010, Texas gained four seats.


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