AUSTIN, Texas - Former Austin City Council member Greg Casar is headed to Washington.
After easily winning his race against Republican Dan McQueden, Casar will represent the newly-redrawn District 35 in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes East Austin and part of Hays County.
"I just feel really, truly honored to be able to be the first Latino representing this community and directly in the Congress," said Casar.
Casar spent seven years representing Austin’s District 4, where he championed progressive issues like affordable housing, paid sick leave, wage increases and police reform.
"What I learned on the City Council is everyday folks need to have their voice heard," said Casar. "And that's what we need to focus on in D.C."
But Casar has drawn scrutiny for supporting the repeal of the homeless camping ban, and cutting the Austin police budget. FOX 7 asked if there’s anything Casar would approach differently once he gets to Congress, compared to when he was on City Council.
"Yeah, what we recognize is that we have to actually solve these problems. And it became so, so difficult sometimes at the local level during the pandemic when the shelters' capacity was getting cut in half," said Casar. "But in the Congress and alongside local leaders, our job has to be to provide the kind of mental health services, substance use services, and the housing and shelter necessary to actually solve the problem."
Casar says he decided to run for Congress during last year’s deadly winter storm, when he says he realized national change was needed to solve local problems.
"There are the big issues of raising the minimum wage and addressing the climate crisis, restoring abortion rights that have to be addressed by the Congress. And then there's the key local issues. The rent is rising and housing prices," said Casar.
During his campaign, Casar got endorsements from big-name progressives like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but insists he’s open to working with anyone—in what may turn out to be a GOP-controlled House.
"I’m ready to put my name on powerful pieces of legislation that would help the everyday person, regardless of whether the sponsor of the bill is a Democrat or Republican Independent. No me importa," said Casar.
Casar will take his seat on Capitol Hill on Jan. 3.