Interview with Selina Yee, Independent Citizens Redistricting Commissioner

Interview with Selina Yee, Independent Citizens Redistricting Commissioner

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Austin has a process for residents to redraw the boundaries of the council districts every ten years. The boundaries of the council districts greatly impact Austin’s government, including our 10 Councilmembers and Mayor, and will shape how residents are represented for the next decade.

It’s time for Austin residents to redraw the council district boundaries, so ATA is chatting with the Austin residents on the Commission that have the responsibility of drawing the district boundaries through an open and impartial process.

Up next: Selina Yee, Independent Citizens Redistricting Commissioner

 

What inspired you to apply for a Commissioner position with the ICRC and what inspires your desire to be involved in local politics?

After over two decades of volunteering to address social justice issues relating to economic equity, mental health, disaster relief and childhood development, I decided that affecting policy would be a worthwhile pursuit. I pursued a position on the ICRC in order to dedicate my time, energy and expertise to advancing equitable representation. Local politics are an excellent avenue to affect change at the ground floor. What’s more, it is a great avenue for learning, practicing and appreciating the process of law, government and policy.

What are your general priorities for this upcoming redistricting session?

Besides the broader goal of redrawing Austin City Council Districts with public concerns in mind, my work in the Communications and Hiring Working Groups has to do with ensuring that the public is aware of how to share their thoughts and concerns with the commission and securing the best project management, legal and map-making talent that will ensure this project’s success.

What do you believe are the biggest issues the people of Austin are facing right now, and how do you think redistricting can help or hurt?

Austin grew by 200,000+ residents since our last Census, changing not just the size of our population, but its distribution across racial, geographic and economic lines. The people of Austin need City Council members to adequately address their communities’ specific needs. A redrawing of City Council District lines will ensure more equitable, accurate representation.

What do you think is the best way Austinites to get involved in local politics?

The first, most basic way is to participate in local elections and do the research related to such elections. The second would be to engage with their local, elected officials to ensure their voices and concerns are heard.

How does or might the city partner with local businesses or tech companies to make the city function optimally? How can technology help Austin return to more normalcy?

Regarding the first question, I think there is tremendous opportunity for local businesses and tech companies to contribute city functions. One step may be to register with the city as a vendor. Alternately, if the business sees a specific way it can help, it can reach out to one of the respective Austin City Departments for guidance. In regards to “normalcy,” do you mean restoring city operations to pre-pandemic efficiency? If so, again, I would recommend reaching out to the department most related to a given business’s capabilities to pursue directly.

If you’d like to reach the ICRC, contact them here with feedback and comments: icrc.commissioners@austintexas.gov.

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