Austin’s govt. changes could mean more police

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin continues to gear up for a changing government makeup this November.

You’ll vote for city council members from your geographic area, and the mayor at large. That’s much different from the six council seats and one mayor Austin has now, and some say the changes could impact public safety.

“I’d feel better if I knew they were in the area, from the area,” said Debbie Fontenot, who likes the idea of having a council member representing interests near to her. One of her concerns is police presence.

“I don’t see them that much,” she said. “If something happens, you see them. If somebody calls in, you see them.”

Austin Public Safety Commissioner Michael Levy says the new geographic city council makeup could accomplish that.

“We get more council members from the neighborhoods, we’re going to get more officers, because it’ll be a priority as opposed to other things that a very small group of people and their neighbors from two zip codes think are priorities,” Levy said. “You go to any neighborhood, they want more visibility.”

Dale Henry is the Brentwood Neighborhood Association president.  He sees the up and downsides of geographic representation.

“Now you have one person to go to, which you can complain more vocally, maybe. But on the other hand, before, you could go to all of them,” Henry said.

Wednesday, a task force met at Austin City Hall to discuss how various boards and commissions will transition to the new 10-1 plan. By the end of this month, the task force is expected to have a plan for how they’ll select members. Right now, city council members appoint those positions. With a changing city council, that process will likely change, too.

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