Austin’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission unanimously adopted Final Preliminary Map at its last set of hearings. Critical for Austinites for Geographic Representation is that the commission’s four minority opportunity districts are what we have been working for over all these months!
- District 1 is unchanged from the plan the ICRC adopted on Sept. 28 – as we requested. It remains a solid African American opportunity District.
- Districts 2 & 3 are drawn according to maps we provided the ICRC in testimony. Both are Hispanic Districts and neither are “packed.”
- District 4 has the Wooten neighborhood removed from the September version. However the compensating addition is what we requested in testimony last Wed. This is a solid Hispanic opportunity district.
The citizen volunteers of the ICRC have performed admirably. They have taken a giant step toward the fair geographic representation Austin voters approved in 2012.
Austin’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has released an Official Preliminary Map of the proposed 10 Austin city council districts. Geographic representation in Austin is closer to reality!
From the ICRC’s public statements:
“The ICRC is proud to present our Official Preliminary Map to the public for their review. This map was developed after three months of listening to our fellow citizens to determine what is important to the many diverse areas of our great city.
“Check out AustinRedistricting.org to see the plan and the demographic data of each of the 10 proposed districts. There you can view an interactive , as well as [an interactive] version of the Official Preliminary Map. Download a PDF version of the map.
Austinites for Geographic Representation applauds the ICRC’s official preliminary councilmember maps. AGR will work within the ICRC process to advocate for some minor, but important, changes to the ICRC’s District 3 – the African-American opportunity district. However, AGR believes the citizen volunteers of the ICRC have done a good job and taken a giant step toward the fair geographic representation Austin voters approved in 2012.
Austinites for Geographic Representation has complete trust in the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission because we trust Austin!
That said, an article in the Austin American Statesman discussed a preliminary map drawn by the chair and vice chair of the ICRC, apparently independent of input from citizens and neighborhood organizations.
AGR’s Peck Young explained that the commission “took three months of testimony from the public and ignored it. That’s disrespectful … and I think it’s a terrible mistake.”
As the Austin American Statesman explained “The commission has been told several times by attorneys and members of the public that it must draw the so-called opportunity districts for minorities. But on Saturday, commissioners seemed confused about whether they had to follow that rule, and the group didn’t discuss any data about race and ethnicity as it began drawing lines.”
We trust that the strong majority of the ICRC will remember that they must honor input from citizens and neighborhood organizations. We see this requirement as potentially jeopardized by these maps. Two months of public input cannot be ignored. Especially the map in NE Austin where most of the African-American community lives. The African-American “opportunity district” defined by AGR and offered to the ICRC is very fragile. Austin doesn’t want a legal challenge to put all 10 districts at risk.
AGR submitted four maps covering the minority communities. These were also intended to be a starting point for the ICRC. AGR’s proposed district creates a fragile – we believe required African-American opportunity district. The three Hispanic opportunity districts submitted by AGR have leeway for the neighborhoods and Commission to work through the details.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 30, 2013
From: Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR)
Contact: Linda Curtis (512-657-2089)
Austinites for Geographic Representation Proposes Minority Opportunity District Maps to Independent Citizens Redistricting Committee
Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR), Austin’s broadest and most diverse coalition, in coordination with LULAC District 7 and NAACP – Austin, responded to a request from Austin’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) by proposing city council district maps for four minority opportunity districts. AGR is honored to be able to apply its broad political representation, as well as its expertise defining election districts, to support the ICRC. Maps of the three Hispanic opportunity districts and one African-American opportunity district, submitted to the ICRC, along with an explanation, are available on AGR’s website: www.TrustAustin.org.
Roger Borgelt, Travis County Republican Party Vice-Chair and co-chair of AGR’s “CD10-1 Advisory Committee,” explained to the ICRC that “drawing the minority opportunity districts first does three things. It undoes the “gentleman’s agreement” by empowering Austin’s minorities to choose the council members they want. It assures Austin’s new council system will meet the Voting Rights Act, creating opportunity districts in proportion to the Hispanic and African-American populations of Austin. Equally important, these districts will honor the efforts of people like Arthur B. DeWitty, who fought against Austin’s racist election system in the 1950s.”
Former State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, co-chair of AGR’s “CD10-1 Advisory Committee,” told the ICRC “Austin voters passed the CD10-1 system by more than 60%. The voters empowered the ICRC, not city hall, to draw Austin’s council district maps. We stand with the ICRC. We trust the 14 citizen volunteers on the ICRC will draw maps independent of political influence. Austinites want fair geographic representation. The ICRC can use these four minority opportunity districts as the foundation on which all 10 of Austin’s new council districts can be drawn.”
Nelson Linder, NAACP-Austin president and co-chair of AGR’s “CD10-1 Advisory Committee,” said “AGR fully supports the ICRC. We are grateful for the dedication and hard work of these citizen volunteers, reflecting Austin’s diverse population. AGR is honored the ICRC asked for our advice. The 4 districts we propose are intended to help the ICRC. AGR recommends that as the ICRC draws Austin’s council maps, that the ICRC consider all groups, neighborhoods, and communities of interest in their work. That especially includes Austin’s Asian community and Austin’s large student population. We will continue to support the ICRC in its creation of fair geographic representation for all Austin citizens.”
At the request of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, Austinites for Geographic Representation defined 4 minority districts. There are three Hispanic opportunity districts and one African-American opportunity district, in proportion to minority population in the city as whole. AGR recommends that as the ICRC defines Austin’s 10 council districts, these 4 minority opportunity districts be the foundation of Austin districting. To understand why assuring the voting rights of protected minorities is a high priority please go here. For our advice to the ICRC on the importance of these districts, please go here.
You can click on each image to see a larger version of the map. The GIS data for the proposed districts will be given to the ICRC. For the entire presentation given the ICRC, please click here.
Districts 1 to 4 (note, the dark black line marks Austin’s City Limits
AGR proposed of 4 minority districts to the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission as the foundation for Austin’s new system of 10 city council districts for a simple reason. Under the Voting Rights Act, the interests of protected minorities have higher legal standing than any other group. In Austin, protecting the voting rights of African-Americans and Hispanics is legally higher priority than addressing the interests of neighborhoods, communities interest, or even minority groups which are not classified as “protected” in Austin.
AGR understands this requirement. We believe the 4 districts we proposed to the ICRC protect the legal rights of African-Americans and Hispanics. NAACP-Austin and LULAC District 7 support the maps AGR proposed.
For further information, please visit “Redrawing the Lines” supported by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.: The Role of Section 2 – Redistricting & Vote Dilution
“Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is a key provision that applies nationwide. Section 2 protects minority voters from practices and procedures that deprive them of an effective vote because of their race, color, or membership in a particular language minority group. Practices that have the effect of depriving minority voters of an equal opportunity to elect a candidate of choice constitute minority vote dilution. During every redistricting cycle, officials must ensure that they draw plans that do not dilute minority voting strength (or deny it altogether) as they otherwise face liability under the Act.
Gonzalo Barrientos, Roger Borgelt, and Nelson Linder, the co-chairs of AGR’s “CD10-1 Advisory Committee” wrote an Op-Ed in the Austin American Statesman supporting the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The ICRC is drawing the new city council districts under the CD10-1 plan (a.k.a. “Prop 3″). In the op-ed, the CD10-1 Advisory Committee explained that city council has no authority to hamper the citizen commission by restricting its finances.
The ICRC is independent of city council for a reason: the citizens of Austin want council districts drawn without political pressure and gerrymandering.
As the CD10- Advisory Committee explained in the editorial: “Of all the things that the city really should do to save taxpayers money, penny-pinching this commission isn’t one of them.”
In an article in the Austin Bulldog titled “Austin Impact of Supreme Court Decision,” Steve Bickerstaff, long time supporter of Austin’s Citizens Districting 10-1 plan (a.k.a. “Prop 3″) explains why the recent US Supreme Court decision should simplify the job of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
“… the United States Supreme Court by a vote of 5-4 effectively struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For Austin, that means that federal approval of the 10 council districts being drawn by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will not be needed.
- Magdalena Blanco of ZIP Code 78754
- Mariano Diaz-Miranda of ZIP Code 78748
- Rachel Farris of ZIP Code 78702
- William Hewitt of ZIP Code 78748
- Carmen Llanes Pulido of ZIP Code 78722
- Arthur Lopez of ZIP Code 78758
- Anna Saenz of ZIP Code 78745
- Maria Solis of ZIP Code 78745
The 8 selected Commissioners will appoint 6 additional Commissioners from the pool of remaining applicants to ensure that the Commission reflects the diversity of the City of Austin. At least 1 of the Commissioners shall be a student that is duly enrolled in a community college or university in Austin. These 14 Commissioners will constitute Austin’s first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission empowered to establish the boundaries of the 10 new geographic council districts for the City of Austin.
Steve Bickerstaff wrote a letter of welcome and advice to the new commissioners.
Peck Young of Austinites for Geographic Representation wrote a letter of congratulations and advice to the new commissioners.
Media coverage includes:
- “Austin redistricting takes big step forward” by Jeff Stensland of YNN -”A group of eight Austinites now form a commission that city officials and residents hope will soon fairly redraw district lines. … These commissioners still need to select their final six members. Peck Young has some ideas on who should fill the remaining seats on the board. ‘I would like to see you make an effort to include an Asian (person),’ Young said. ‘The Asian community is the fastest growing community in Austin.’ … The commission must have equal representation from all four Travis County precincts, at least one African-American member, and a University of Texas student. All of those members have to come from a final pool of 60 applicants, which the City Auditor refined in early May.
- “First 8 members of Austin redistricting commission selected” by Ashley Goudeau of KVUE News – “By the year 2014, Austin will be divvied up, creating 10 districts from which each of the 10 council members will be selected. Before that happens, the city must decide who will draw those lines. A total of 544 Austinites applied to be on the 10-1 Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. A panel of three, randomly selected CPA’s narrowed the list to the 60 most qualified. Wednesday, the first eight names were drawn.”
- “First 8 members of Austin’s citizens redistricting commission chosen” by Peter McCrady of Community Impact News – “The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is beginning to take shape after the City of Austin’s Auditor’s Office drew eight names from the 60-person applicant pool May 22. ‘They’re all Austinites. I think that’s the biggest qualifier,’ Councilman Mike Martinez said. ‘They all care, they all want to be a part of the process and they’re all residents of our city. From that perspective, I think it’s a great group.’ The eight members were chosen at random by the auditor’s office. Four of the members come from South Austin, one from North Austin and three from East Austin.
- “Eight Chosen To Serve On Austin’s Redistricting Commission” by the Austin City Auditor’s office – “The City of Austin’s Auditor’s Office today, May 22, drew eight names from an applicant pool of 60 to serve on the first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission that will draw Austin City Council geographic boundaries. … Once the eight members are confirmed, its first order of business will be to select the remaining six members to complete the 14-member Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Those remaining members, according to the City Charter, must reflect the diversity of the city and be chosen based on relevant analytical skills and ability to be impartial. Additionally, the eight-commissioners shall appoint the remaining members to ensure geographic diversity and that at least three commissioners come from each of the four existing Travis County Commissioners districts, to the extent possible.
- “8 Austin Redistricting Commissioners Selected” by Michael Hurta of the Burnt Orange Report - ”… the City of Austin’s Independent Redistricting Commission came into fuller focus. Of 60 qualified applicants, 8 names were randomly chosen to be on a 14-person panel. The partial commission will have its first meeting next Friday, May 31. It’s first order of business: selecting the rest of the commission. It is up to these 8 to flesh out the rest of the commission, based on the other 52 pre-selected qualified applicants and a group of diversity considerations including race, geography, sex, and student-status. Some of diversity is already selected through that random drawing. Five of Eight are female and Six of Eight are Hispanic. Only one is classified as white and one is American Indian. Geographically speaking, five of eight live in Travis County Commissioner Precinct 4. Two live in Precinct 1 and one lives in Precinct 2. There are currently no African American or Asian members of the panel, so one can expect that deficiency to be remedied in the remaining six selections.
Citizens Districting 10-1 (a.k.a. “Prop 3″) established an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (“ICRC”) to draw the maps for Austin’s 10 new city council districts. The commission will have 14 citizens volunteer members. Politicians, consultants, and paid operatives are specifically prevented from serving.
Latest: The Applicant Review Panel (also a part of CD10-1) has now qualified and selected 60 candidates from the ~500 original volunteers. See the official list here.
- Each city council member can strike one candidate.
- The Applicant Review Panel randomly selects the first 8 ICRC members from the remaining candidates. This drawing will take place May 22 at 12:30 pm in the Boards and Commission Room at City Hall
- Those 8 ICRC members select the last 6 ICRC members, assuring diversity of the ICRC