City Council staggers terms to fit with Austin's geographic district elections

Some new City Council members will serve a truncated term after Austin City Council approved an ordinance that amended its council terms to fit with the general election in November 2014.

Austin City Clerk Jannette Goodall said at the City Council work session Aug. 20 that there is a current city ordinance that establishes council terms as starting and ending June 15.

"This is just correcting that ordinance to account for the November election and changing [council terms] to a Dec. 15 date," Goodall said.

Goodall said the ordinance also provides a mechanism for the council members elected in November to stagger their terms.

According to the ordinance, after the 2014 general election, the elected council members are required to divide themselves into two groups. One group of five council members will serve a two-year term, while the other group of five council members will serve the full four-year term. After a two-year term served by half the council members, every elected member will serve a full term.

Austin residents voted in November 2012 to elect City Council members from 10 geographic districts. In June, the 14-member Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission was formed to draw the boundaries of the 10 districts. The boundaries are expected to be completed by December, with the first election based on those boundaries taking place in November 2014.

Will McLeod, a regular speaker at City Council meetings, said he supports the move to geographic representation but voiced his desire to see shorter term limits for the mayor and council members.

"This idea of four years on the council for a term is too long," McLeod said. "Hopefully, I'd like to see one day that Austin City Council and [the] mayor serve two, two-year terms instead of four-year terms."

Mayor Lee Leffingwell said the council was not considering amending full-term limits at the meeting.

For more information on Austin's geographic representation and districts, visit https://austintexas.gov/department/10-one.