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Advocates for 10-1 cry foul over city’s 8-2-1 plan

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Supporters of the 10-1 single member district representation plan are crying foul over city council’s move to put another representation model, the 8-2-1 plan, on November’s ballot.

A group of demonstrators rallied outside city hall Tuesday, claiming the city is trying to throw a wrench in their publicly-supported, 10-1, single-member district plan.

Appointed by the city council, Retired State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos chaired the 2012 Charter Revision Committee. The committee of 15 citizens was tasked with finding an alternative voting measure to the city's current at-large council.

Under the 10-1 structure, 10 council members would be elected from specific districts and the mayor would be elected at-large. Advocates, particularly Austinites for Geographic Representation, gathered more than 30,000 signatures from voters supporting the 10-1 plan.

Last Thursday, city council voted to place the recommended 10-1 plan on the November charter amendment ballot. They also decided to place an 8-2-1 plan on the ballot, which includes council members from eight single-member districts, plus two other members and the mayor elected at-large.

"It is difficult to believe that over 30,000 people who signed a petition are being ignored," Barrientos said.

However, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole says it came down to giving voters a fair choice.

“I simply wanted the voters to have a choice between the 10-1 system and the 8-2-1 system because we are making a monumental change in our government," she said.

Former Travis County Judge Bill Alshire is also suspicious about the council-backed 8-2-1 proposal.

"Where is the 8-2-1 petition? If they really thought this was great for Austin, why didn't they sponsor a competing petition to see if they had support?" he said.

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