Casey Ramos’ height and weight can be deceiving. By simply looking at him, most people would not know that the 27-year old is not only a boxer but an undefeated boxer in his super featherweight class.
“I'm just trying to make myself the complete package,” Ramos said. “I'm a professional boxer, first and foremost that's how I got my following. So we're sort of using the following we have in the professional arena, professional boxing arena, and sort of using that to catapult us into the political arena. And then along the line, the fights started getting harder and harder and I figured I can't do it forever so I decided to go to school and so that's why I'm getting my economics degree. That's where I started learning about economics and how it works and public policy and things like that.”
Ramos is a senior at St. Edward’s University who plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in May of 2017.
While he seems to have a lot on his plate, he said when the opportunity to run for the District 2 seat on the Austin City Council presented itself, he couldn’t pass it up.
"I'm born and raised in the district and for a number of years we've always been underrepresented in our district and I feel like I'm a good representative for our district,” said Ramos. “I know the district like the back of my hand, you know I've lived there my whole life and I know the wants and needs of the constituents.”
Ramos said he’s lived in the Dove Springs neighborhood his entire life.
“I figured that for us to be best represented, it should come from the inside out, not the outside in. And also some other things too; there's not a lot of affordable housing like truly affordable housing that's coming in that matches the demographics of our neighborhood. Anything that's coming in that's affordable, which is very limited at that, is at 80 percent of the median income and people in our district only average 60 percent of the median income of Austin and most even make 20 and 30 percent.”
“That means they have to make 80 percent of the income to afford the housing that's coming in,” Ramos explained.
“So the numbers for affordable housing coming in don't really match the demographics and the need for affordable housing in our district.”
ON THE ISSUES
Q: Are you for or against Proposition 1, Austin’s Mobility Bond, and why?
“I'm not against a mobility bond, because we need solutions to traffic and we need improvements to our roads and corridors, but I'm against this mobility bond because there's virtually no money that's coming into our district from this mobility bond.”
Q: What action do you believe the city needs to take to address traffic congestion?
“We can't look about what should be or what could be, we have to look at what is. We're an auto-centric city, you know, everybody drives. So we have to look at culture. You know, in Germany, and in certain German cultures, the way they drive is they take pride in their driving and I think that a lot of people don't really take too much pride in our driving here. Me, some people, we're all guilty of it; we get road rage, we get impatient and we want to just drive and get there first but if we, I think, if we practice better driving habits then a lot of the traffic will be mitigated. But then also adding more bus routes. Maybe not shooting for the big rail yet, I mean that's to come, that's definitely going to be needed but we're not there yet. Where we are right now is everybody rides the bus, so making the bus more efficient, adding more bus lines and adding routes to the bus routes, to the bus lines that are more efficient also.”
Q: The Martin Prosperity Institute found Austin is the “most economically segregated major metro area in the U.S.,” how do you propose Austin address this?
“A lot of people want to raise the minimum wage, but what's going to happen there is if you raise the minimum wage, small businesses are no longer going to be able to employ as many people as they do. So what we don't want to do is we don’t' want to raise the minimum wage, what we want to do is we want to reduce the cost of living.”
“What we're working on right now in our district is gathering a registrar of local businesses, local small business owners, mobile mechanics, mobile landscapers, roofers, drywallers, and getting the registrar of those put together from within the community that way it's at a lower cost. It's not some big corporation that's going to charge higher prices. And then also, the money's exchanging hands within the community, it's not leaving, instead, it's circulating and then that way it will keep the marginal cost low for everybody.”
Q: How can the city increase affordability related to the cost of houses in Austin?
“Right now, as you may know, our land development code is being rewritten, so that would be a process to overlook and make sure that's specific to each district.”
“Also more coordination with developers. So there's certain cases like in the southeastern corner of our neighborhood, the Del Valle ISD district is working with developers to get schools, more schools. So developers are coming in and they're building, but they're not just building, they're donating land for schools. So working more in conjunction with both school districts and getting plans in terms of economic development and using the unused land that they have for affordable housing for teachers, for people that work within the city and keeping them within the city limits.”
Q: What do you believe is the biggest need of the residents in District 2?
“I think keeping people established, keeping homeownership which builds wealth. So we're about 50 percent homeowners, 50 percent renters right now and if we can shoot that up to about 80 percent homeownership, I believe that we can build a lot more wealth, we can save a lot more money and we can be more well off.”
Q: So what are your thoughts on how to increase home ownership within District?
“Programs, home owner's assistance programs, first time home buyers programs, keeping the cost of living low, keeping those services that we're talking about low at all times. There's various things and then controlling the land development codes, controlling what kind of businesses are being built whether it's going to be luxury retail, condos, apartments or actual single-family homes.”
Q: On a lighter note, Austinites like to believe we live in the “Live Music Capitol of the World,” so tell us, what’s your favorite song?
“Confidential Playa” by Big Moe
MORE ON CASEY RAMOS
- Occupation: professional boxer; student at St. Edwards University
- Education: studying economics at Edwards University
- Birthplace: Austin, Texas
- Years in Austin: 27
- Mobility Bond: Against
To Read More About Casey Ramos, go here.