Earlier today, Austin's City Auditor held a public drawing today to select the three accountants that will serve on the 10-1 Applicant Review Panel. The three accountants are Martha Parker, Michelle DeFrance and Carolyn Limaye – all women.
The review panel will select the 60 most qualified applicants for potential service on Austin's Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. That's the group which will ultimately draw district lines for city council members. (Click here for an overview of the district-drawing process.)
The name drawing also came with news that the pool of applicants for the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is more diverse than the city itself:
Demographic Group Vote Pool Applicant Pool
African-Americans 6.9% 10.2%
Hispanics 10.7% 17.2%
Asians 2.0% 2.2%
Women 49.9% 43.2%
The news is welcome, as seeking a diverse set of volunteers was one of the city’s biggest priorities.
Fred Lewis, a co-author of the 10-1 plan and a member of Austinites for Geographic Representation, said this is a historic day for Austin.
"We have come to the point where we are going to have independent citizen commissioners draw district lines for our council members," Lewis said. "It will be the first time in Texas that either reelected officials or the courts have not drawn the lines."
The review panel will have their first open meeting on March 8 at City Hall. Frances McIntyre, former president of the Austin area League of Women Voters and member of Austinites for Geographic Representation, said was pleased with that board was all women. "As a woman, I am thrilled to death," McIntyre said. "I am very pleased personally … and I am sure it will be a good and fair panel, whoever is on it, because all those auditors were vetted on their applications."