Austin’s New City Council Districts

November 20, 2013 by Kate Harrington

A commission charged with drawing Austin’s first city council districts has finished that task, and when Austin voters go to the polls next fall for local elections they will vote within the new district-based system. You can take a look at the final map here.

In fall of 2012 Austin voters approved a plan to change the city council from seven at-large members and a mayor to 10 district representatives and a citywide mayor. A commission comprised of 14 citizens set to work in July creating the new map.

The new districts each have roughly 80,000 people, and have been designed in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The first election of the new 11-member council will take place in November 2014; future candidates for city council will have to live and campaign in their districts.

The first drafts of the map drew anger from residents of South Austin, which was initially split into several pieces. The commission put some of those neighborhoods back together, and also shifted the boundaries of the Northwest Austin districts.

Although it seems certain that a district-based system will change city politics, it’s not clear what those changes will look like. Neighborhoods, particularly those closer to the center of Austin, have traditionally had an influence. Now other, more distant, Austin neighborhoods will also have some weight.

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.