City Council District 2 Profile: The tech guru, the firefighter and the boxer

Incumbent District 2 City Council member Delia Garza says over her past two years on the dais, helping middle-class families stay in Austin has been rewarding.

"We forwarded one of those recommendations which was to partner with financial institutions to see what sort of programs can be put in place to help families make that initial down payment. Because a lot of families can afford $1,200, $1,400 a month rent which is what a mortgage payment would be about but they just can't get over that first obstacle of a down payment," Garza said.

We asked Wesley Faulkner why he decided to run.

"I think that there's a lot of rhetoric about what Austin is in terms of the perception we put out to the public. And even to other cities in the country. But when you look at the ordinances and the laws that have passed, they are hurting our city," he said.

You may have seen Casey Ramos before -- not in the political arena but in the boxing ring. In addition to studying economics at St. Edwards, 27-year-old Ramos is a professional boxer with Top Rank. He says it's a character builder that carries over into politics.

"You literally fight for every dollar you make.  And you learn how to spend it well and how to save it well.  You learn hard work and discipline.  So waking up early and going to bed late, that will be nothing new," Ramos said.

One hot-button issue over the past 2 years: ridesharing. Garza was vocal about the importance of fingerprint background checks for drivers -- a requirement that eventually drove Uber and Lyft out of town.  She says she wishes the public knew the whole story.

"There was a huge attempt to negotiate.  I felt like a lot of the public believes that we just came in and said 'fingerprints and that's it' and that's not the case," she said.

Faulkner has a very different take on ridesharing.  He doesn't believe enough thought was given to what would happen if Uber and Lyft packed their bags.

"It disproportionately hurt our district.  A lot of people relied on Uber and Lyft for jobs.  And because of the poor transportation in the area they used it to get around the city.  Now that is something that is thrown up in disarray.  And the guise of it was Uber/Lyft hurt my feelings so I'm against them," Faulkner said.

Ramos says most people in his age group supported keeping Uber and Lyft in town.

"But I do agree with the fingerprinting because it's an intimate situation and you're literally doing what your parents told you not to do your entire life and that's to get into a ride with a stranger," Ramos said.

One thing Garza, Ramos and Faulkner have in common: they're against the $720 million mobility bond.

"This is not going to solve all of our congestion issues.  And it's going to take a long time.  10 to 20 years I believe to implement all of these things.  So I hope that the voters educate themselves on what exactly this bond does and make the decision that they feel is best for them," Garza said.

"That's a lot of money for people to be paying and not everybody to receive the benefits," Ramos said.

"I love what's in it in terms of how it will improve things but it doesn't say how much it will improve so it's hard to tell whether or not the dollar amount that's associated with it is a good value for what we're getting because we actually really don't know what we're getting," Faulkner said.

Something else Ramos wants to focus on is affordable housing in the district.

Speaking of that, Faulkner and Garza disagree how the Pilot Knob deal was handled.  The plan is for 10% affordable housing.  Faulkner says that's not good enough.  He believes council should have just walked away from the deal.
   
Garza says it gives families a permanently affordable option.  She says there could have been more discussions about the cost to taxpayers, that's why council is taking up the issue again soon.

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