AUSTIN -- With a final unanimous vote, history was made at Austin City Hall Monday night.
Last November Austinites rallied and voted for geographic representation. The charter amendment changed the make-up of the City Council members from six at-large members and one mayor to 10 members, each representing one district, plus one mayor.
The job of drawing those districts went to 14 randomly selected citizen volunteers, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC).
"Very historic. Very historic moment for all of us, and we're all really pleased," said ICRC Chair Magdalena Blanco.
Experts say the map meets federal requirements and fairly represents minorities.
"The opponents said they'll never get it done on time. They're getting it done ahead of schedule. 'It'll cost millions.' It cost about $160,000, which is not millions. 'The citizens can't draw maps.' Clearly an independent citizens commission drew perfectly good maps," said Peck Young, consultant for Austinites for Geographic Representation.
Young has drawn maps across the state for 35 years and says districts in Austin are long overdue.
"We had a system where City Council members could hold meetings on their front porch by yelling at each other because they all lived together," said Young.
But the new map presents a challenge for two of the current City Council members. Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley are the only two able to run for re-election. The map puts them in the same district. So if they both run, they're in for a fight.
"District races are different. These district races are about door-to-door, these races are about who you know in neighborhoods. City-wide races are fundraising contests," said Young.
The work of the ICRC isn't finished just yet. The commissioners serve 10-year terms, and as Austin annexes new land they'll return to tweak the map.
In 10 years new commissioners will be selected to re-draw the maps according to the City's changing demographics.