Council continues to mull over geographic representation, election timing
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The Austin City Council continues to mull over several city charter issues that could land on November’s ballot.
Many of the questions concern moving to a geographically represented council, instead of the current at large system.
Some council members want to offer each element of that plan as separate questions on the ballot. For example, if the plan should include some at-large members, and if elections should be in May or November.
Council members are also contemplating changing terms of office from three years to four years.
"The reason being is so you can have them staggered every two years, on even years, when the potential voter turnout is the highest," Council Member Mike Martinez said.
A group of residents in favor of single member districts, Austinites for Geographic Representation, is leading a petition drive to ensure the group in charge of drawing the district lines has the authority to make council hire attorneys if the maps are disputed.
It’s a point that some members of the council don’t agree with, including Martinez.
"I absolutely support independent redistricting and it being led by citizens,” he said. “I can't go so far as to support council relinquishing its authority."
Martinez also disagrees with the petition's push to keep elections in May. He says that brings out a fraction of the voters a November election would.
Council members will vote on Aug. 2 on whether to bring the idea of single-member districts to voters.