What's the one thing that would make life on your block better?
As Austin prepares for its first elections with 10 new geographic districts, KUT is diving deeply into District One, which covers large parts of East Austin. But we want to hear from you, regardless of where you live. Tell us: What would make life better on your block?
Follow us on Twitter, and tag your questions or comments: #atxd1. Not on Twitter? Leave us a voicemail message: (512) 270-9972
Some background: For decades, members of the Austin City Council have been elected to represent the city as a whole. They all ran citywide. But this November, for the first time, geographic representation will create a council elected to represent specific parts of town.
Austin voters approved geographic representation (also called single-member districts) in 2012. The setup they approved is commonly called the “10-1” plan: 10 districts with one council member each and one citywide candidate in the mayor.
When a citizen commission began drawing the 10 districts, it started in east and northeast Austin – in what's now called District One. That’s because Austin’s African-American population is shrinking, and it would be a challenge to draw a district that gave black Austinites the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice. While District One was designed as an African-American opportunity district, it is only 28 percent black. Still, that’s the highest share of the population among the 10 districts.
District One stretches from the Governor’s Mansion downtown all the way north to Howard Lane and east beyond State Highway 130. It includes some of Austin’s most rapidly gentrifying areas. It also includes places – so far – untouched by Austin’s booming growth.
The whole idea behind these districts is that council members would be more connected to their district – because they actually live there. KUT wants to know what people are thinking about in the district.
So starting in District One, KUT is launching a new project: On My Block.
On My Block revolves around a simple question. We want the residents of District One to tell us: what’s the one thing that would make life on your block better?
We’re looking to see what questions and concerns are shared by the entire district – and also learn what makes each block unique.
For example, here's two responses from the southern part of District 1, near Downtown and Interstate 35:
But ask the same question in the another part of District 1 – maybe out past the SH 130 toll road, close to Pflugerville – and you might get different responses:
KUT is continuing to interview people at home and on their street – wherever we find them in District One. But we also want to hear from you, whether you live in District One or not. What’s the one thing that would make life better on your block?
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More: KUT's Matt Largey and Jennifer Stayton explain On My Block in the radio piece below. Listen: