Wednesday was the first of eight public meetings to carve out Austin’s future, literally.
The members of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission met to hear public input on Austin’s new 10-1 plan. Approved by voters last November, Austin will soon be mapped into 10 districts, with one council member representing each area. Right now, all Austin City Council members are at-large.
"The commission has decided that the things that are important to them are keeping neighborhoods together and communities of interest,” Craig Toungate with the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission said. “We think that's probably what the citizens want too, but we want to hear from the citizens. That's what this is about."
East Austin resident Rudy Malveaux said he wants the maps to be fair, giving his community a proper voice.
"I do know that the proximity of the Mueller development to my community, geographically, looks like an easy thing to draw the lines around although they are entirely different than the folks in my community," he said. "My biggest fear is that we won't have representation even in a single member district."
Malveaux’s fear was shared by many of those who addressed the commission.
"I think most people would admit that life is better in the west of Austin and those of us who are part of 'those people' only want to be a part of the whole, having never been," Richard Smith of East Austin said.
Meetings like this will be held seven more times across the city.
"We're going to come up with a preliminary map and then we're going to do these public forums again,” Toungate said.
The next public input meeting will be Saturday morning at the Austin Public Library's Little Walnut Creek Branch. Visit AustinTexas.gov for more information.