City auditor invites public input for citizens redistricting panel and how best to identify applicant qualifications
City Auditor Ken Mory today announced a public forum will be held to encourage participation in the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission (CIRC) and secure a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants.
Once formed the 14-member CIRC will hire consultants, conduct public hearings, and draw 10 council districts the City Council will have no choice but to accept, subject to federal approval under the Voting Rights Act.
Peck Young is the volunteer political consultant who provided strategy for Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR), which got Proposition 3 on the ballot through a petition drive and won voter approval.
Young said he was encouraged by the auditor’s quick action to seek public participation.
“My reaction it that’s a very good first step,” Young told The Austin Bulldog. “AGR members will be encouraged to participate. I think that’s an excellent approach on Mory’s part.”
Elections scheduled for November 2014 will be held under the new system with 10 council members elected from geographic districts and only the mayor elected at large.
The forum starts 7pm Tuesday December 4 in One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325. (To see a map, click here.)
Overview of the process
Proposition 3 approved by voters November 6 requires the city auditor to establish an Applicant Review Panel of three independent auditors who will screen applications from volunteers who wish to serve on the CIRC.
The auditor’s forum will include breakout sessions “to determine how best to identify applicant qualifications including relevant analytical skills, the ability to be impartial, and an appreciation for the City of Austin’s diverse demographics and geography,” the press release states.
These qualifications are specified in Proposition 3: Ordinance No. 20120802-015 approved by voters. Screening to determine whether applicants meet these requirements will be the responsibility of the Applicant Review Panel.
Applicants must meet numerous other requirements to prevent conflicts of interest. These are listed in Sections 3(D)(1) and 3(I)(3) of the Ordinance.
In addition, Section 3(D)(4) makes any member of the CIRC ineligible to hold elective public office for the City of Austin for 10 years from the date of appointment. Commission members will also be ineligible for three years to hold appointive public office for the city, to serve as paid staff or paid consultant to the city or City Council or any council member, or to receive a non-competitively bid contract from the city.
The Applicant Review Panel is required to produce a pool of 60 qualified people. The mayor and City Council members are entitled to strike one person each from the pool, in writing, without stating a reason.
The city auditor will then conduct a public drawing to pick the first eight people to serve on the CIRC and those eight will pick the remaining six members to balance the commission by race, ethnicity, gender, and geography.
Can’t make the December 4 meeting? Your input may be submitted in writing via e-mail to [email protected]. You can also mail or hand deliver your comments to Office of the City Auditor, 302 W. 2nd St., Suite 2130, Austin TX 78701.
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