Single-Member District Task Force Withdrawn
The Austin City Council withdrew a resolution sponsored by council members Sheryl Cole and Bill Spelman today that would have called for a community task force to advise on single-member council districts for future elections.
The withdrawal came on the heels of a press conference this morning by Austinites for Geographic Representation. UT law professor Steve Bickerstaff spoke for the group.
“The whole process is to allow the creation of a commission that is independent to the maximum extent possible to political incentives,” Bickerstaff said.
Council members Cole and Spelman said their proposal was intended to get the ball rolling on establishing single-member districts. But Syd Falk, an outside counsel for the city, says any revision to the city’s voting process would have to be pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice.
That means establishing any sort of district map to be voted on in a November 2013 election would face a serious time crunch.
“While I will not say that it would be absolutely impossible to get to a November 2013 election, depending, of course, on the structure that gets passed, it would be very difficult,” Falk said.
Council members are expected to bring back a different resolution pertaining to geographic representation at a future meeting.