Commission application number 129 submitted by Jeffrey Kirk on 06/12/2020

First Name Jeffrey
Last Name Kirk
Voter Unique Identification number 1140460659
Ethnicity White
Gender Male
Age 45-54
Education Level Post-Graduate Degree
Major Pursued Law
What is your occupation? Consumer advocacy law & regulation
Submitted Address
City Austin
State TX
Zip 78704
Verified Address
City Austin
State TX
Zip 78704
Do you have a spouse or domestic partner? No
Are you applying to be the student member of the commission? No
Have you been continuously registered to vote in the City of Austin for the last five years? Yes
Have you voted in 3 of the last 5 City of Austin general elections (or corresponding runoff if applicable)? Yes
Been appointed to a state or city office? No
Been elected to a state or city office? No
Been a candidate for a state or city office? No
Served as an officer, employee, or paid consultant of a political party? No
Served as an officer, employee, or paid consultant of the campaign committee of a candidate for elective state, county, or city office? No
Been a registered state or local lobbyist? No
A paid employee of the City of Austin? No
A person performing paid services under a professional services contract with the City of Austin? No
A person performing paid services under a professional or personal services contract to the City Council of the City of Austin or to any individual member of the City Council of the City of Austin? No
A controlling person of a person performing paid services under a professional or personal services contract to any member of the City Council of the City of Austin? No
Contribute or bundle one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more in aggregate to candidates for City of Austin elective office? No
Please describe your relevant analytical skills. I have a law degree, including a thorough understanding of the precepts of the state's municipal code, as well as broader knowledge of Austin's municipal political sphere.
Please describe your ability to be impartial. While I don't actively practice law, I'd describe myself as hardwired in terms of ability to be impartial, owing to my legal education. I believe I'm broadly able to see both sides of any given problem – or all sides, as is typically the case in instances that aren't black-and-white – and understand the logic and verity of each stakeholder's views.
Please describe your appreciation for the City of Austin's diverse demographics and geography. My family moved to Austin 35 years ago when I was a youth, and I'd describe my knowledge of its history and specific neighborhoods / areas of town as extensive. I already know the history behind Austin's 2014 transition to its current 10-1 city council/mayor (including the politics of its prior at-large system), as well as what went into drawing the city's original district boundaries. I particularly appreciate how the 10-1 transition gave East Austin POC a bona fide voice for the first time, given that the at-large Council was largely dominated by CMs backed by the predominately white parts of the city west of 35. Further, I'm aware of Austin's problematic history owing from the repercussions of its infamous 1928 Plan as well as the construction of I-35 in the 1950s and early 1960s, which further ghettoized East Austin's Black & Latinx communities well into the 21st century – including many of the problems now occurring due to the area's rapid gentrification (most notably displacement of its communities of color).
Please provide your employment history. I currently work as a regulatory consultant in a number of areas, and in 2014 I was appointed by the Austin City Council to its working group tasked with developing a regulatory infrastructure for the then-newly arrived Uber & Lyft. More specifically, I was allotted the seat intended to represent Austin's sizable student population (as in college/university level) – this took place the summer before my final year in law school, where I was chief articles editor of the Texas Journal of Consumer & Commercial Law, so I was a student myself at the time – and in practice became a proxy of sorts for the broader "consumer" interests relative to Uber & Lyft's entry into the Austin market (including issues such as passenger safety and drivers' rights). Before returning to law school relatively late in life (age 40), I spent nearly my entire career working in Austin's tech startup sector, including two companies I personally started. One of my earliest jobs as an adult was helping to launch Austin360.com, which was later split up into separate sites for Austin360 and the Statesman. I worked there as a content producer, which included writing original journalism for the then-nascent online medium as well as designing the first websites for a number of prominent businesses, including H-E-B. (Suffice it to say the idea of a 24-year-old almost singlehandedly building a website – albeit a somewhat rudimentary one – for a multibillion-dollar corporation would be unthinkable today, but this was during the early days of the web back in 1995-1996. As background: at the time the Statesman decided to offer "free" websites to some of its largest print advertisers, including H-E-B & Dillards, for purposes of offsetting anticipated losses from the decline in display & classified ads on the print side. Dillards declined the offer, but H-E-B opted to go ahead with a website specific to the Austin market – which at the time employed austinheb.com as its URL.)
Please provide any other information you wish to be considered during the selection of the most qualified applicants for the Commission. I have a fervent belief in equality, as well as equity, for all, and my knowledge of Austin politics extends all the way to the neighborhood level. With specific regards to Austin's Council districts, I understand why, for instance, the Mueller area is the only portion of East Austin included in D9, along with specifics such as why demographically similar parts of "old" South Austin (within the 78704 ZIP code) were broken up into separate districts (D5 & D9). I also broadly know both the problems and priorities of each of the city's ten districts, including the importance of giving communities of color a far greater voice than they've had in prior eras. Establishing four districts in East Austin as well as majority-minority areas west of 35 (e.g. Rundberg) was a great first step, but I think we've seen over the past 5+ years (since the 10-1 Council assumed office) how the original district boundaries could be tweaked to promote an even greater degree of equity, in addition to adjustments due to population growth in various areas during that period.
How did you hear about redistricting/Applicant Review Panel? Social media
Disclaimer Agreement Checked
Disclaimer Signature Jeffrey Kirk
District District 5
Does this application qualify? Yes