Want to serve Austin on the Council? Now is your chance

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some big changes are coming in the way the City of Austin is governed.

The commission that created maps for the new 10-member City Council districts has completed its final report.

“There’s never been a time like this, and there probably never be a time like this for the City of Austin,” said T.J. Costello, who is chair of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

In a process that encompassed several months, Costello and the other volunteers on the special commission had the politically volatile job of carving out district lines.

Costello calls the process “fascinating, interesting and unique.”

He says the next step is getting qualified candidates to run for the Nov. 4 election.

“It’s just an opportunity for anyone who’s thought about being involved in city politics to put their hat in the ring and give it a shot.”

The first day to file an application for a place on the Austin City Council ballot is July 21. The filing deadline is Aug. 18.

So far, only two incumbents have signaled they want to return to the council.

Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley will run for the District 9 seat in Central Austin.

There are announced candidates for mayor and in all 10 districts, but Costello believes there is room for more.

“There will never be another opportunity like this again, with nine seats with no incumbent,” said Costello. “We need candidates who are passionate about the city and who are willing to talk to their neighbors.”

The new districts have approximately 80,000 residents each, ideal for what Costello describes as “retail politics”, where candidates have the chance to interact with potential voters on a personal level.

If no candidate receives 50% of the vote in November, the top two candidates in each district will face off in a Dec. 16 runoff election.

The new 10 member council and Austin mayor will be sworn into office on Jan. 6, 2015.

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