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Southwestern Student Takes Leading Role in Local Government

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    Junior international relations major Colin Berr is chairing a committee that is reviewing proposed amendments to the Georgetown City Charter.

Junior Colin Berr is chairing a committee to review the city’s charter

When he returned to Georgetown last fall after studying abroad in Germany for a year, junior international relations major Colin Berr found himself thinking of different services he had seen in Germany that he believed Georgetown and the Austin area could benefit from.

“I got super motivated to get a [bus] line to Austin from Georgetown,” Berr said. This passion led him to begin working with Georgetown City Councilwoman Rachel Jonrowe, who shares his interest  in trying to establish an efficient local public transportation system.

Jonrowe was so impressed with Berr that when she was asked to nominate someone from her district to serve on a special committee being formed to consider and evaluate proposed amendments to the Georgetown City Charter, she decided to nominate Berr for the position.

 “I couldn’t be more proud, knowing that Colin is representing District 6,” Jonrowe said.

Jonrowe said the committee will be tackling a lot of important questions, such as “What happens if we move municipal elections to November?” “Should the voters decide when they want a new representative through the democratic process, or should we impose term limits for City Council members?” “Do Second Readings of new ordinances slow down the process, or give citizens the time they need to debate the issue?”

The committee will research and debate these issues and make recommendations to the City Council at its May 22 meeting.

When the eight citizens who had been appointed to the Citizens Charter Review Committee met for the first time in February, they elected Berr to serve as chair of the committee. As chair, Berr needs to make sure that committee members have as many facts as possible about the different amendments so they can make informed decisions on what to recommend to City Council.

“Chairing the committee has allowed me to directly experience the heart of local politics,” Berr said. “I am greatly honored to have a voice in this process.”

Berr said his interest in politics comes from his parents. “My mother is from Germany so my family always talked about politics at dinner,” he said. “And my father fascinated me with the historical stories he told.”

Berr said he is particularly interested in local issues, because sometimes they can effect citizens the most.

After his work with the charter committee is over, Berr plans to study in France for part of the summer, then take advantage of Southwestern’s Washington, D.C., Semester, where he hopes to intern with the State Department.

“I hope that this is just the beginning of even more Southwestern student involvement in their local government,” Jonrowe said.

Isaac Bernal