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This series looks at how local, state and educational policies affect the neighborhood – everything from City Council representation to childhood obesity.

Video: Will New City Council Bring Real Change to Dove Springs?

Out of a population of 24,000, who will be the one person to represent Dove Springs?

Last November, Austin voters agreed to adopt a geographic form of city government: one mayor and 10 districts with one council member each.

Advocates for geographic representation argue the old way left large parts of Austin unrepresented. The seven members of the current Austin City Council all live north of Lady Bird Lake, and close to the city’s core.

But things weren’t always this way: longtime Dove Springs resident Bob Larson served one term on the Austin City Council in the early 1990’s.

Larson’s path to the city council was unconventional. 
The shy, unpretentious family man remembers taking a hard look at his neighborhood one day. And he said to himself, “we have no parks, no library, no swimming pool. Nothing.”

Larson ran for council and won. He lobbied for a rec center and got it. He lobbied for a library and got that too. He pushed for a community pool, and ended up getting that approved too.

No council member had ever lived in Dove Springs until Larson. No council member has lived there since. But with the switch to 10-1, that’s about to change.

So what will the council member representing Dove Springs have to do?

Larson says that for starters, “they’re going to have to be bilingual to be effective.” About 65 percent of Dove Springs residents speak a language other than English, and close to 40 percent of neighborhood residents are foreign born.

What other opportunities and challenges will Dove Springs’ representative face? KUT News explores the issue in the video at the top of this page, and in the broadcast story above. 

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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