Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Redistricting Commission return to in-person meetings following Governor's order

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) reverts general meetings to in-person to comply with Texas Governor Greg Abbott's executive order. The order allows the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) exemption for virtual meetings to expire on Sept. 1, 2021.

The next general ICRC meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, at the Permitting and Development Center (PDC), 6310 Wilhelmina Delco Dr., Austin, TX 78752. This meeting and all subsequent meetings will require an in-person quorum as well as in-person public testimony

"The ICRC has made quick progress to abide by the new order to continue our critical work," said Vice-Chair Luis Gonzalez. "We have reserved in-person venue space for all future general meetings starting on Sept. 1. Quorum requires that commissioners be physically present at these meetings, including both the chair and the vice-chair, while a few will still have the option to connect virtually."



With the conclusion of the first round of public forums on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, the ICRC now shifts its focus to drawing preliminary maps using state census data.   

Mapping Specialist George Korbel will provide an update on the mapping process at the upcoming meeting. Korbel stated that the redistricting plan should be based on the 2020 census population and avoid any discrimination prohibited by the Constitution and laws. Because the city's population has changed and grown, district boundaries are likely to be reshaped.

"Based on what I see so far, I am hopeful that the Commissioners will find a way so that the modifications in the current districts will further the goals set down by the City Charter," said Korbel. 

Korbel will review all public testimony including verbal testimony collected at the 12 ICRC-hosted public forums, emails, maps, handwritten comments, phone messages, as well as individual and group input from commissioners before presenting a finalized map at the Sept. 15, 2021, ICRC meeting, where the commission will vote to adopt a map.


Public Forums

As part of the mapping process, the ICRC has scheduled public forums for viewing and discussing preliminary maps. The public is invited to attend and give feedback—verbal or written—at these meetings which will take place in each of the four-county precincts. Dates and locations are as follows:

  • Public Forum No. 1
    Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Gus Garcia Recreation Center
    1201 E. Runberg Lane
    Austin, TX 78753


  • Public Forum No. 2 
    Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021: 6-8 p.m.
    Mayfield Cottage
    3505 W. 35th St.,
    Austin, TX 78703


  • Public Forum No. 3 
    Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021: 1-3 p.m.
    George Morales Dove Springs Recreation Center
    5801 Ainez Dr.
    Austin, TX 78744


Additional Public Forums TBA

"The Governor's order has eliminated the option for audio testimony, requiring public testimony to be in-person," Gonzalez said. "To ensure the safety of the public, the ICRC has committed to follow recommended health guidelines for all in-person meetings, including requiring the use of face coverings, ensuring the availability of hand sanitizer, properly sanitizing surfaces including testimony microphone after each use, and maintaining proper social distance between all attendees."


Other Ways to Provide Input

The community is encouraged to submit feedback directly to the commission on SpeakUp Austin: https://www.speakupaustin.org/city-of-austin-redistricting. After registering on the site, the public can take the survey and even upload a map or instructions for redistricting. This information will be gathered through October 2021 and used to help draw the new city district boundaries.

Physical or Electronic Mail
Another way to participate is to contact ICRC commissioners or leave feedback please email: icrc.commissioners@austintexas.gov or write to: Housing and Planning Department, Attn: ICRC, P.O. Box 1088, Austin, Texas 78767.
For the latest information, including meeting modifications due to COVID-19, visit the ICRC on SpeakUp Austin or on Facebook.
About the ICRC
Commissioners are: Joshua Blank (District 8), Sara Inés Calderón (D2), Erin Dempsey (D10), Camellia Falcon (D7), Luis Gonzalez (D10, Vice-Chair), Errol Hardin (D1), Shaina Kambo (D9), Prabhu Kannan (D5), Dr. Sterling Lands (D4), Hoang Le (D3), Brigham Morris (D3), Christina Puentes (D7, Chair), Eugene Schneider (D6) and Selina Yee (D1).
Public input forums are recorded and made available after the meetings here: http://www.austintexas.gov/page/watch-atxn-live.
Past meetings and agendas can be viewed on the commission's website at www.austintexas.gov/cityclerk/boards_commissions/meetings/116_1.htm