In the last few months, dozens of city organizations, including TAG, have formed a coalition called Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR) in order to gather support and resources to change the City Council from at-large seats to a system of single-member districts. AGR has adopted the following plan: 10-district, 1 mayor plan with no at-large seats. This plan was adopted nearly unanimously, rather than a plan presented by the Austin Neighborhood Council, an 8-district plan with 1 mayor and 2 super districts from which 2 representatives each would be elected, totaling 13 seats altogether. The 10-1 plan will challenge Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s plan of six districts, 2 at-large seats and 1 mayor.
If the election occurs in November, we have a lot more time to marshal our resources and gather support. Voters at November elections tend to be more representative of the city’s diversity and far more sympathetic to geographic representation. However, a November election might pose a problem as people are more interested in state and federal contests and broadcasting our message will be more difficult and expensive.
At the moment, AGR is trying to raise $7,500 to conduct a professional poll of Austinites to determine how much support for geographic representation there is in the city. Once we understand where Austinites fall on the issue, we can determine a course of action that helps get those voters informed on the issue and out to the polls on election day. Most of the groups who support this issue want to see a City Council that is more responsive to their constituents and neighborhoods and less beholden to the power of corporate real estate interests and other blocs of power that contribute to wasteful spending and excessive growth. Keeping Austin balanced, small-business-friendly and above all, representative of its constituents, is most important.