AUSTIN (KXAN) - Big changes are coming to the way Austinites are represented by the City Council.
Come November 2014, the Council will change from seven members elected citywide to 10 members elected from districts and a mayor who's elected citywide.
Wednesday night was the first public meeting for citizens to talk about the map that will be drawn for the districts.
There is a 14-member group of citizens in charge of figuring out how this map should be drawn, and they are the ones who will be listening to feedback from the public.
The meeting at Millenium Youth Entertainment Center lasted about 2 hours. People living in east Austin got a chance to tell the panel what they see fit. From the sound of things, this is the start to a lengthy process.
"I voted for '10-1,'" said Ani Colt, "I'm getting educated."
Colt lives in the Miller neighborhood on Austin's east side.
"We're working with the commission and with citizens in terms of the process of drawing lines," said Peck Young.
Young chairs the group Austinites for Geographic Representation. They spearheaded the "10-1 Plan." That plan is 10 geographic districts in Austin, each represented by one city council seat. He helped get the plan on the ballot last November and is seeing it through.
"We drafted this [charter], and we drafted the section of the amendment which called for a citizens panel," said Young, "We're excited about the people appointed; it's a great group. This is a culmination, to have the lines drawn."
The new districts take effect for the November 2014 election. Already, the debate starts.
"I hear some talk of trying to put our district in with people on the other side--the west side--of I-35," said Colt, "And we feel it's very important--it's the whole vision of Miller--to be on the east side."
A lot is left to figure out, but for Young, the main thing is just seeing the new lines drawn
"This is the first time in 107 years that every part of Austin can be represented," Young said, "We've had an at-large system for a century."
In addition to hearing from the public, the redistricting committee will look at things like demographics and geography when determining how these lines should be drawn.
Council wanted an independent group of citizens to draw the districts in an effort to avoid any controversy about the possibility of members manipulating the lines in their favor.
The committee has until spring of next year to draw this map. That way, candidates for the November 2014 election can start campaigning.
Wednesday night's meeting will focused on Precinct 1 in Travis County.
Each week through November, there will be a different community meeting for each precinct.
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