"I worked for a couple of cities in South Texas, a very small town where I was a city manager for a short time helping them get organized and get set up. Then I worked for the city of Laredo for two years," said Vela.
But he moved to Austin 30 years ago and has never looked back. He also started his own law firm, where he serves as a defense attorney. He touts a resume full of legal, and government service.
"I was Greg Casar’s appointee to the Austin Planning Commission here in Austin. I know how a government works, I understand budgets, policy-making," said Vela.
Vela is vying for Casar's seat come Jan. 25.
He is not a stranger to District Four. He has already received an endorsement from house member Sheryl Cole. If he wins, one of the first things Vela hopes to go after, is affordability.
"We need more housing, that’s just the bottom line. Apartment rents are going up $300 to $400 a month, the occupancy rate for apartments in Austin is like 98-99 percent. You can’t find an apartment and if you do, you’re going to get into a bidding war," he said.
Vela believes Austin is becoming a place that is thriving with growth, but pushing out the working class that made it what it is. "I’m afraid that my children won’t be able to afford to live in the same neighborhood they grew up in," he said.
When it comes to the council's decision to reallocate some money from the police budget, Vela agreed. "The police are a necessary response to emergency situations especially dangerous situations, violent situations. Are police the right response to homelessness? They’re really not," said Vela.
Vela believes more money should be invested to provide a plethora of resources to all departments, especially keeping mental health first responders on the clock. The campaign has gotten shaken up a bit, after attack mailers were found circulating recently.
"It’s disappointing, especially a race with seven candidates, that one of them feels the need to try and throw mud."
Vela is hoping voters in his district can understand who he truly is. "I’m a progressive Democrat, I make no apologies that I’m a progressive Democrat. I will be a fighter, I’ll push for a progressive agenda that helps working people in Austin," said Vela.
Early voting runs from Jan. 10-Jan 21. Election Day is on Jan. 25.
Austin City Council District 4 candidates speak at forum
Greg Casar endorses Jose "Chito" Vela for his City Council seat
Jose "Chito" Vela announces plans to run for Austin City Council