Geographic Representation

An Election For History Books

 An Election For History Books

Geographic representation achieved, GOP wins
three seats, and several other records set

by Ken Martin
©The Austin Bulldog 2014
Posted Wednesday December 17, 2014 8:28pm
Updated Thursday December 18, 2014 6:21am

Steve Adler at victory party, with wife Diane Land looking onThe largest landslide margin ever in an Austin mayoral runoff was achieved last night, as mayoral victor Steve Adler swamped incumbent Council Member Mike Martinez.

In Travis and Williamson counties a combined total of 80,669 votes were cast in the mayor’s race. Adler garnered 54,366 for 67.39 percent, while Martinez netted 26,303 for 32.61 percent.

Laura Morrison set the previous record by getting 65.0 percent of the votes in her 2008 runoff against Cid Galindo. Robert Barnstone got 64.98 percent in beating Sam Guzman in a 1988 runoff.

Lee Cooke in 1988 set the prevous record for margin of victory in a mayoral runoff when he got 58.43 percent of the votes to unseat incumbent mayor Frank Cooksey.

Greg CasarAt age 25, Greg Casar became the youngest Austin City Council member ever elected.

Previously the youngest council member was 26-year-old Jeff Friedman, elected in 1971.

Friedman’s campaign consultant in that election, Peck Young, verified this, saying, “Jeff was the youngest when he was elected and Greg beats him by a year.” Casar will turn 26 in early May.

Casar ran a smart campaign to soundly defeat now two-time loser Laura Pressley (she got an impressive 44.48 percent of the votes in her one-on-one challenge of incumbent Martinez in 2012).

Laura PressleyCasar’s District 4 victory of 2,851 votes (64.62 percent) to her 1,561 (35.38 percent) resulted in part from her campaign’s faux pas. Perhaps not the least of which was getting involved in a discussion of the 9-11 attacks being an inside job, which drew intense media coverage, and her latest mail piece attacking Casar for, among other things, allegedly being an atheist.

Still, last night Pressley couldn’t resist a parting shot. A little after 8pm as early voting results showed she was already behind by more than 700 votes, she insisted on being quoted as saying, “Greg sold District 4 to special interests.”

In response Casar told The Austin Bulldog, “My track record stands up for working people and progressive ideals, even when special interests stood in the way. I’m going to stay committed to that.”

Women rule

What Can Austin Learn From California?

What Can Austin Learn From California?

Panel discussion focuses on how Golden State
experiences inform city’s move to 10-1 council

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Monday, May 6, 2013 2:00am
Updated with video link Tuesday May 7, 2013 10:50am

Emcee Bickerstaff and panelists Ancheta, Lewis, Hadavi, Limaye, FishkinCalifornia’s official nickname, The Golden State, adopted in 1968, harkens back to the discovery of gold in 1848. Now the left-coast state’s experiences with using an independent citizens commission to draw maps for 177 seats in four different governing bodies offers a golden opportunity for learning how best to implement the City of Austin’s 10-1 plan.

The 10-1 plan for electing council members from geographic districts was approved by 60 percent of Austin voters last November 6 who voted for Proposition 3. Work is well underway to establish an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) that will draw council districts to be implemented in the November 2014 election. The ICRC’s duties are specified in Article II, Section 3 of the Austin City Charter.

Close to a hundred people attended the panel discussion held the evening of Thursday, May 2, at the Bass Lecture Hall on the University of Texas campus. Upwards of half of those raised their hands when asked who had applied to serve on the ICRC.

The event was jointly hosted by UT’s School of Law, the LBJ School’s Center for Politics and Governance, and Austinites for Geographic Representation.

Redistricting Veteran Shares His Wisdom

Redistricting Veteran Shares His Wisdom

 Member of California Redistricting Commission
describes what to watch out for in Austin redistricting

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Thursday May 2, 2013 3:55pm

One of the 14 members of the California Redistricting Commission was the featured speaker at today’s luncheon hosted by Austinites for Geographic Representation and sponsored by the Austin Area Research Organization and League of Woman Voters Austin Area.

Angelo AnchetaAttorney Angelo Ancheta is director of the Katherine and George Alexander Community Law Center and an associate clinical professor at Santa Clara University, where he teaches on subjects including election law, voting rights, and immigration. He came to Austin at his own expense and with no other business here to help educate the community about what to expect going forward.

From an applicants’ pool of 30,000 people, Ancheta won a slot on the California Redistricting Commission, the group that drew the maps for four different political jurisdictions, which included 80 seats in the California State Assembly, 40 seats in the California State Senate, 53 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and four seats on the California State Board of Equalization.

Ancheta’s experience in drawing maps for California, a state with 38 million people, offers good insights into what lies ahead for the City of Austin and its 845,000 people.

Why Bother? Austin After 10-1

Why Bother? Austin After 10-1

KLRU-TV taping draws more than 200 people
for multifaceted discussion of what future holds

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Monday, April 29, 2013 4:01pm

Moderator Foster and panelists Robinson, Greenberg and LeeIt’s been six months since 60 percent of voters approved a change to the Austin City Charter that will result in creation of 10 geographic districts from which residents will be elected to the Austin City Council in November 2014.

At present we’re in a quiet period during the slow work of creating an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to actually draw the maps for council districts, but some are thinking ahead to how this city may be governed after that historic election ends the at-large system of electing council members that started 60 years ago this month, on April 4, 1953.

To keep the public focused on this fundamentally important change, a live taping of the fourth in a series of “Why Bother?” programs packed Studio 6-A at the KLRU-TV station the evening of April 23.These programs are designed to create an ongoing dialogue about civic engagement.

Light Turnout for City Auditor’s Meetings

Light Turnout for City Auditor’s Meetings

Five scheduled meetings drew fewer than ninety
people, but keen interest shown among attendees

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2012
Posted Tuesday January 29, 2013 3:47pm
Correction posted 4:29pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ken MoryCity Auditor Ken Mory and his staff are doing their utmost to reach out to the public and provide information that would encourage Austin voters to apply to serve on one of the two bodies that will shape Austin’s future for decades to come.

The action is a result of voter approval November 6 of Proposition 3, which orders the implementation of 10 geographic council districts from which Austin City Council members will be elected in November 2014. Another charter amendment approved by voters dictates that council elections will be held in November of even-numbered years, council members will serve four-year terms (instead of three years), and will be limited to two terms (instead of three). Incumbents can run in spite of term limits if they gather signatures of 5 percent of registered voters to gain access to the ballot.

The auditor hosted five application public information meetings over an eight-day period starting Saturday January 19 and ending Saturday January 26. A total of about 87 people attended those meetings. About 14 of those were Bowie High School students who attended the January 24 meeting at Gorzycki Middle School as part of a government class. So at most the meetings drew about 73 people who might have been eligible to serve.

City Auditor Kicks Off Info Sessions

City Auditor Kicks Off Info Sessions

Drawing maps for 10 City Council districts
attracts citizens who want to get involved

by Ken Martin
© 2012 The Austin Bulldog
Posted January 22, 2013 2:33pm

The historic opportunity to draw districts from which 10 Austin City Council members will be elected in November 2014 was enough to draw a Saturday morning crowd to the Carver Branch Library. The end result will be to change the election of council members from and all-at-large system that has existed since 1953 to elect council members from geographic districts.

Ken MorySome 30 people interested in learning more about opportunities to serve on the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) or Applicant Review Panel attended City Auditor Ken Mory’s first public application information session. Four more such meetings are scheduled for this week (see schedule below).

Information supplied by Opinion Analysts Inc. indicates that 35,418 people meet the minimum requirements to serve on the ICRC by having been registered to vote for five years and having voted in three of the last five May elections. (That number will be reduced somewhat once conflicts of interest that bar service are taken into account.) The City Auditor’s office will mail two invitations to apply to serve on the ICRC to each of these.

Bumpy Road to Implementing 10-1

Bumpy Road to Implementing 10-1

Council refuses to pay for child care, mileage.
Applications to serve taken Jan. 19 to Feb. 22

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Thursday January 17, 2013 4:30pm

The citizens group that got Proposition 3’s 10-1 plan for electing council members approved by voters is feeling betrayed by the City Council's decision to deny reimbursement of virtually all out-of-pocket expenses for people who serve on the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC).

The City Council passed a Resolution this morning that applies existing policies for city employees to govern reimbursement of members of the ICRC and the Applicant Review Panel.

Fred LewisAttorney Fred Lewis, who drafted the final version of the Proposition 3 Ordinance that voters approved said, “The Charter amendment passed by voters said we would have citizen commissioners and personal expenses would be reimbursed. At the time the petition was underway it was made clear that we would pay for child care and mileage. And now the City Council has decided to jack with us.”

The provision for reimbursement was included in the Proposition 3 Ordinance approved by voters November 6. (The Ordinance is now incorporated in the City Charter, Article II, Section 3 titled “Redistricting.”)

Proposed Districting Timeline Draws Flak

  • Proposed Districting Timeline Draws Flak
  • Redistricting expert says schedule does not
  • allow enough time for federal approval process
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Tuesday, December 4, 2012 3:37pm

Ken MoryCity Auditor Ken Mory and his chief of investigations, Jason Hadavi, briefed the Austin City Council in this morning’s work session, including proposed dates for accomplishing major tasks related to establishing 10 council districts, as approved by voters November 6. (The core of the briefing is contained in the City Auditor’s Slides for City Council Briefing.)

The briefing took place in advance of tonight’s related public forum that starts 7pm in One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325. (To see a map, click here.) The purpose of the forum is to encourage participation in the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission (CIRC) and secure a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants.

The schedule proposed by the City Auditor indicates that the CIRC would adopt a final plan for the 10 geographic districts by April 1, 2014.

Attorney Steve Bickerstaff, who has represented more than a hundred jurisdictions on redistricting in his long legal career, told The Austin Bulldog that April 1, 2014, is not soon enough.