AUSTIN -- Changes are in the works for the Capitol City, huge changes.
"This is the biggest change in Austin's government since its inception," said Austin Council Member Mike Martinez.
That change: the 10-1 plan. Austinites for Geographic Representation submitted a petition to the city to put a plan on the November ballot that would restructure the city council. The 10-1 plan divides the city into 10 geographic areas, each with its own council member who lives in that district, and one mayor. That proposition failed six times before, but three weeks ago, it passed.
"I'm very excited about having a new council, an inclusive city where issues that haven't been addressed will be addressed now from a community standpoint," said Nelson Linder, President of the Austin Chapter of the NAACP and a member of Austinites for Geographic Representation.
The 10-1 plan goes into effect for the November 2014 city election. So what happens now?
"Because it was passed, as written, by the folks supporting the petition initiative, it has to be conducted and lined out exactly as it's spelled out," explained Martinez.
The first step will be for the city auditor to create an application process to build a volunteer commission of 14 people who will draw the district lines.
"When you apply for that commission, you're going to be part of that process," said Linder. "You're going to be at a table with folks who are very well qualified and look at how we draw maps and why we draw maps. But it's going to be a very inclusive process with professionals to guide the folks who apply to the commission."
"The initial members of the commission are drawn via a lottery system. So you really want to do everything you can to ensure a wide range of folks from all over Austin, but also the diversity that Austin reflects," added Martinez.
Dividing the city won't happen without some obstacles.
"You're going to see some challenges in trying to create cohesiveness among neighborhood boundaries, things of that nature," noted Martinez.
But the city is relying on the people who wanted 10-1 to step up and help make it a success.
The city auditor will hold a public meeting next Tuesday, December 4th for people interested in being on the commission. That meeting will be at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325 at 7:00 pm. People interested in being on the commission should note that people who serve on the commission will not be able to run for city council for five years. Still, the city is encouraging anyone interested in the process and the future of the city council to attend the meeting.