The Austin Chronicle

Why Not You?

RECEIVED Mon., May 5, 2014

Dear Editor:
    As you know, the Austin Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) recently finalized the requirements outlined in the city charter for the new 10-1 Austin City Council. As the leaders of the ICRC, we have had the opportunity to meet with many groups interested in the redistricting process. During these sessions, there is always good give and take with solid questions. We talk about the process, how much time and effort our fellow commissioners put into the final product, as well as the various citizens who gave up their time to make valuable presentations at ICRC meetings. But there is one question always asked that seems to stand out: “Who do we think will run for the new City Council?” To which our reply is always, “Why not you?”
    While it is clear that the lists of people interested or uninterested in running for Austin City Council is impressive, in the grand scheme of things this list still remains small. We have heard from some folks stating, “I don’t want to do it this time around,” or “I’ll give it a shot next time.” To which we reply, “There has never been a chance like this in Austin and there will never be.”
    Nine of the 10 council districts have no incumbent and the 10th is a district in which student advocacy groups fought hard to be a part of. While some districts are more compact than others, each only has about 80,000 residents. Furthermore, each district has a small number of population pockets allowing one to explain his or her viewpoints and philosophy to smaller neighborhood groups. This is a great way to see where one stands in a community and see if there might be traction with a district’s voters. Expressing interest now only has the cost in time and energy of meeting one’s neighbors.
    Of course, at some point before the filing deadline (July 21 – Aug. 18), a potential candidate will have to register with the city clerk and either pay a filing fee of $500 or submit a petition. But until then, we strongly encourage our neighbors here in Austin to embrace this once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of Austin’s history.
   We ask again,“Why not you?”
Magdalena Blanco, Chair of the Austin ICRC
TJ Costello, Vice-Chair of the Austin ICRC

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