Iliya Svirsky, Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission
AUSTIN YOUNG REPUBLICANS
What does the Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission do?
- Advise the city council on community technology and telecommunications services.
- Advise the city council on new sources of funding for access television projects and community technology projects.
- Promote access to telecommunications services and community technologies.
Why did you decide to serve on the Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission?
“I work as a software Engineer for my day job, which makes it very relevant to technology-related things. The Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission was one of maybe seven or eight boards that were interesting to me and it was one of only two that I was qualified for… You don’t have to be an expert at any of the subject matter, they are pretty good at teaching it, but it’s a little easier if you have some background in the area.”
What’s the formal application process?
“The formal process was very simple: You go to the website; you find the board you want to serve on; you click apply; you fill in the questionnaire.”
What’s the informal application process?
“I volunteered for Councilwoman Mackenzie Kelly here and there so we were familiar with each other. When she started working at City Hall she needed people to hop on a few of these boards and since my background is in tech I applied to the Technology and Telecommunications board.”
How much of a time commitment is it to serve on the Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission?
“The time commitment was actually one of my biggest concerns. You only meet once a month for about two and a half to four and a half hours, which is pretty simple. My concern was about getting emails throughout the week as well as comments from the council members about certain things they wanted to get done. You have to know legal definitions. You have to do research on a lot of the stuff. The time overall is still not that much, but it still ends up being about 10 to 15 hours a month, which is not much at all, but that was actually a big concern of mine in the beginning…”
What was a concern you had before applying to the Community Technology Telecommunications Commission?
“A concern was that my decisions are supposed to mirror the councilwoman’s ideology to an extent, my own as well, but you’re supposed to have a similar field of view if you will and that creates an interesting issue because the rest of the board got appointed by people who are from moderate leftist to extreme leftist.
Now happily I learned that a lot of people on the board are very moderate, very intelligent individuals – a lot of Engineers and a lot of Business owners that just want to meet very specific needs to help communities. And yes, there are sometimes a crazy idea or two that we have to be the voice of reason against, but for the most part, most things are not an extreme outlier for either side left or right.”
Why do we need more conservatives to serve on municipal boards?
“To reflect our ideologies onto these commissions… Either conservative values, libertarian values, whichever values you hold dear to yourself – push more towards them. Almost always, there’s a right-wing solution, a left-wing solution, and a medium solution. Your job on a city council like Austin’s, is to push to the medium. In certain cities you can push it to the right. …If Austin can push moderate I think most cities can do that too.”
What are the next steps for someone that wants to serve on a municipal board?
“First of all, find out how the boards work in your city. …Find out who can appoint you and then help them out. Whenever they have an event, show up and volunteer. You have to ask about a board appointment. Most of the time if they know you can be useful they’ll give you a board.”