City Council to consider shifting Austin wards

Published 10:20 am Friday, March 23, 2012

Hundreds of Austin residents living in the city’s northern tip near County Highway 16 and in a small southwest segment of town may soon be represented by a different city council member.

The Austin City Council will consider a redistricting proposal at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

The plan focuses on balancing the city’s three wards to ensure each has about the same number of people, said City Clerk Lucy Johnson.

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The proposed map shows the northern tip of Austin — everything north of Todd Park along County Highway 16 — would change to Ward 3, Precinct 1. Currently, that area comprises 270 people and belongs to the 1st ward, Johnson said. Council members Judy Enright and Marian Clennon are assigned to the 3rd ward.

An eight-block area in southwest Austin would also switch wards with the proposal, she said. The area between Second Avenue SW and Fourth Avenue SW, from Fourth Street SW to Eighth Street SW will move from Ward 1 to Ward 2. Three-hundred and ten people live in the area. Council members for the 2nd ward are Roger Boughton and Steve King.

No other significant changes are proposed for the wards.

Balancing population numbers is a common practice, Johnson said.

“It is done at each level of government,” she said. The federal government gives equal population to each U.S. representative, and the state does the same for its senators and representatives.

Mower County also divides up into five districts, using population numbers from Austin’s wards, small cities and townships. Austin is part of all except the 2nd District.

Johnson used a city map divided up in hundreds of segments that highlighted the population of each block in the city, with the goal of getting population numbers as close to equal as possible. The numbers were drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 statistics on Mower County.

The proposal would leave the approximate population of Ward 1 at 8,133, Ward 2 at 8,240 and Ward 3 at 8,345.

Look to the Herald on Sunday for more on redistricting.