First 8 members of Austin redistricting commission selected


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist SCOTT McKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 22 at 6:21 PM

AUSTIN -- 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.

Carmen Llanes Pulido is one of the eight. The 28-year-old Austin native works for Marathon Kids. She has served as an election judge, deputy voter registrar and is a community organizer.

"I'm looking forward to bringing a lot of perspective to the table, and I really am inviting everyone I know to give input in this process because it's going to be crucial," said Pulido. 

Magdalena Blanco, who moved to Austin 10 years ago, was also selected. The mother of three works for the State of Texas and has a master's degree in finance.

"My daughters are grown, and now I'm getting into my civic engagement, and that's really exciting for me," said Blanco.

The other six members are: Mariano Diaz-Miranda, Rachel Farris, William Hewitt, Arthur Lopez, Anna Saenz and Maria Solis.

Their first task, as laid out in the charter voters approved, is to hand select six additional commissioners from the remaining applicants to ensure the group is diverse. At least one of those selected must be a college student.

Then the rest is up to them. The City will provide money and staff for resources, but it's up to the commission to use them.

"This commission is independent. That's a big word in the title "Independent Citizens Commission." So they're going to be making a lot of choices, making a lot of decisions that impact our future," said 10-1 Project Manager Jason Hadav who works in the City of Austin Office of the Auditor. 

The eight commissioners will have their first meeting May 31 at City Hall.