AUSTIN -- The way Austin is run is about to change dramatically, all because of a map.
Last November, Austin residents voted to split the city into 10 geographic regions, each with one council member, led by an at-large elected mayor.
The job of drawing the maps fell to 14 citizen volunteers in the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC).
"Going into this, there was a lot of trepidation. There were a lot of people outside of the commission that didn't think an independent group could do it," said ICRC Executive Director Craig Tounget.
After much debate and several re-draws, the commission released the final map. Each district is the same size, within a five percent margin. Experts said the map complies with the Voting Rights Act, which states minority groups must have a fair opportunity for representation based on population.
District 1 is known as the African American district, located in East Austin. Districts 2, 3 and 4 are Latino districts, in areas where 60 percent of the population is Hispanic.
While the majority of the other districts' populations are white, District 8 has the largest Asian population with about 13.5 percent.
"The ICRC did a fabulous job of listening to the concerns and comments from the public, but also adhering to their original charge, which was to truly, independently create districts without any political input whatsoever, and they did that," said Ryan Robinson, the City of Austin Demographer.
Robinson said that based on the latest census data from 2010, the maps are fair even with Austin's growing population.
"Those maps are good maps," said Peck Young, Director for the Center for Public Policy & Political Studies at Austin Community College.
Young has drawn district maps across the state for 35 years and worked to get the 10-1 Citizens Redistricting Process, a part of Proposition 3, passed in 2012. He said Austin's system of having a completely at-large elected city council was outdated and unfair.
"We were the last major city in the United States not to have geographic representation. We were at over 100 years, we had a system at which most of our representatives came from an area that only represented about 10 percent of the population," explained Young.
The ICRC will sign the papers, making the maps official next Monday. The maps will be used in the November 2014 election.
Only two current council members can run for their positions again, Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley. The new map puts them in the same district.