Commission application number 207 submitted by Thomas Thayer on 07/13/2020

First Name Thomas
Last Name Thayer
Voter Unique Identification number 1140881009
Ethnicity White
Gender Male
Age 35-44
Education Level Bachelor's Degree
Major Pursued Geology
What is your occupation? Manager at Disability Determination Services
Submitted Address
City Austin
State TX
Zip 78736
Verified Address
City Austin
State TX
Zip 78736
Do you have a spouse or domestic partner? Yes
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 worked for over 10 years in a job where I utilized maps and geographic information systems to analyze the flood risk for specific properties and structures. I often had to utilize minimal information to correctly locate the property and correlate the location on the relevant flood risk maps. In my current job, I have had to take various medical, functional, and vocational information (some of it contradictory) and synthesize it to render a decision as to whether or not an individual is awarded disability payments. I have had to gather a large amount of subjective and objective information, some of it going back several years, and make sense of it to determine the functional capacity of an individual. As a member of a Neighborhood Planning Contact Team, I have had to analyze zoning and land use information, impervious cover data, and individual testimony to help decide whether to recommend a proposed zoning or land use change for approval. I have utilized and analyzed maps and geographic information my entire life and have developed skills in interpreting and understanding the meaning of data in various types of maps. I can take multiple variables into account when analyzing both hard data and personal testimony and synthesize it to see the bigger picture of what is going on. I have to analyze myriad government rules and regulations concerning the disability adjudication process to figure out which ones govern the particular situation I am dealing with.
Please describe your ability to be impartial. As the Chair and member of the Oak Hill Neighborhood Contact team, I have to develop trust with developers, commercial landowners, and neighborhood residents. I have cultivated a reputation for being impartial and listening to all parties before rendering a judgment. I make sure I do research on an issue or specific property that comes before the Contact Team, so that I have all of the facts when looking at a case. I try to understand each side of the issue and considering he arguments made by each person who comes before us. In my current job, I have had to make impartial judgments on whether or not someone receives disability payments, applying government rules and regulations, reviewing objective medical records, and taking into account the personal testimony of individual applicants and those who know them. It is important to balance the subjective and objective evidence in each case and not have a preconceived notion of how the case will turn out. I have to treat each case as a unique individual with unique circumstances. Impartiality is important to ensure the correct decision is reached and that the process is neither biased for or against the applicant.
Please describe your appreciation for the City of Austin's diverse demographics and geography. I have lived and worked both north and south of the river. I have lived in West Campus and worked Downtown and also lived/worked in the suburban part of Austin and worked in an industrial part of the city. I have used bicycle and bus to commute much of the last 20 years that I have worked in Austin. This gives me a much greater appreciation for the diverse demographics and geography than just zipping by in a personal vehicle. On a bicycle or on the bus, one has many more interactions with the wide variety of citizens who live in our city. I have also served on citizen groups, such as the Oak Hill Planning Contact Team, Bicycle Advisory Council, and the Cap Metro Project Connect Advisory Network. On these committees, I have interacted with a very diverse group of individuals from all parts of the city and been exposed to different experiences and viewpoints from my own. even when not commuting, I love to ride my bike around the city and visit all of the different parks and trails. I think few people in the city have the comprehensive knowledge of the entire city's geography (and not just one area) that I do. I have lived in Austin since 1993 and have seen it grow and change. In my current job, I have worked with individuals from all walks of life who have disabilities and represent a cross section of the citizens of Texas.
Please provide your employment history. Manager and Disability Adjudicator at Disability Determination Services 2010 to present: Adjudicate disability claims for individuals - render impartial decisions that are grounded in facts and apply government rules and regulations in making each decision. As a manager, make high level decisions about complex disability cases and help staff learn how to render the correct decision on each cases. Help mediate conflict and develop policy. Research Analyst and Manager at Stormwater Research Group 1999 to 2010: Analyze flood risk of properties and structures for banks and mortgage companies. Utilize maps and geographic information systems to locate the properties and determine the flood hazard. Train and manage staff engaged in flood zone determination - resolve complex geographic problems, develop ways to analyze map data, and resolve disputes from clients who don't agree with our determination. Provide visuals to clients to show why our determination was the correct one.
Please provide any other information you wish to be considered during the selection of the most qualified applicants for the Commission. I love maps and have been using them and analyzing them since I was a child. They have always fascinated me, not just how they look, but what they represent and the different ways that they can be interpreted. While it is said that one can "lie" with maps, the reality is that different maps represent different aspects of truth, and the viewer has to understand exactly what each specific map means and what each component of the map represents. The viewer must be able to take multiple maps with varying data and synthesize them, sometimes even overlaying them, to get closer to the true situation. As a geology student at UT, I created geologic maps and constantly had to interpret maps and visual diagrams of geologic layers and rock types. At Stormwater Research Group, I utilized maps of varying quality, geographic information systems, and map overlays to determine flood risk. As a member of the Bicycle Advisory Council and Oak Hill Neighborhood Planning Contact Team, I had to analyze maps, zoning/land use information, street diagrams, and citizen testimony to make recommendations on transportation infrastructure and zoning/land use changes. My current job doesn't emphasize geographic information as much as my other experiences, but it has exposed me to a wide variety of citizenry, in terms of race/ethnicity, income level, education level, and geographic location. I have had to make impartial judgments utilizing both hard evidence and individual testimony to come to a final decision.
How did you hear about redistricting/Applicant Review Panel? Social media, redistrictATX.org
Disclaimer Agreement Checked
Disclaimer Signature Thomas Thayer
District District 8
Does this application qualify? Yes