Buda discusses switch to single member voting districts

No action was taken Tuesday on a proposed amendment to Buda’s city charter that could potentially designate single member districts in the city.

Council member Wiley Hopkins, who requested the agenda item, said he did so to gather city leaders’ thoughts on the matter.

“I requested this item so the council could voice their opinions and we could get a consensus and pass it on to the committee (charter review committee),” Hopkins said.

Buda’s current election system is an at-large format; elected officials are voted in by a simple majority of all voters in the city limits. With single-member districts, candidates can only run for office from the district where they reside. Additionally, voters who live in a certain district can only vote for the candidates who are on their specific ballot.

Buda, along with Wimberley and Dripping Springs, are all cities that elect officials on an at-large basis.

Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said the move to single member districts for the neighboring cities of San Marcos and Kyle came when the cities reached a population of 20,000 people. Census Bureau estimates have Buda at 15,000 residents.

“By the time the census happens in 2020, I think this will be possible,” Ruge said.

Council member Lee Urbanovsky said single member districts had been on his mind, but felt Buda wasn’t quite there yet.

Council member Eileen Altmiller was in favor of single member districts.

However, Altmiller also requested the Charter Review Committee discuss the possibility of moving Buda’s elections to May instead of  November, when it could coincide with a national election.

Hopkins agreed that single member districts were a good idea. Council member David Nuckles added that with further research into the methods of redistricting, he would support single member districts.

Buda City Manager Kenneth Williams said Hays County is in charge of the redistricting process. County officials will enlist the assistance of a citizen committee and most likely hire a consultant or perform the required research of a region in-house, Williams said.

“Right now, it’s too early to take anything off the table,” Ruge said.

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