Mayor, city council members begin first term after council restructure

Julia Brouillette

Austin’s newly elected mayor and council members took their oaths of office Tuesday during an inauguration ceremony held at City Hall, becoming Austin’s first city council elected under the new single-member district system.  

The system, also known as 10-1, reorganized the city council’s structure from six city-wide seats to 10 single-member geographic districts.

During the ceremony, council members drew from a bag of black and white marbles to determine their term limits so that future council member elections will occur on a staggered basis. Delia Garza of District 3, Gregorio Casar or District 4, Don Zimmerman of District 6, Leslie Pool of District 7 and Sheri Gallo of District 10 drew white marbles and will serve 2-year terms. The remaining five members will serve 4-year terms.

The members then selected a new Mayor Pro Tem, District 9’s Kathie Tovo, with a 10-1 vote.

Mayor Steve Adler said the new council will operate more transparently and make it easier for the public to be involved. In the past, debates around especially contentious issues, like a ban on so-called "stealth dorms," would stretch meetings past midnight.

“You won't have to be at City Council at 3 a.m.,” Adler said.

With seven female councilmembers and three Hispanic members, the new council represents the cultural, geographic, economic and political diversity of the city, according the Adler.

“I’m hoping that you see yourself on this dias, and if you don’t, rest assured that we’re going to make sure that you’re sitting at the table with us together as we shape our city’s future,” Adler said.

The council will meet Thursday to address city administration and governance. Adler said the council will work to promote affordability and better-paying jobs.

“We can’t let the story of Austin be a tale of two cities,” Adler said. “We are losing people and whole communities, and with that, we are losing our city’s soul.”