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Austin councilor Greg Casar will run for Congress and vacate his council seat mid-term

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Greg Casar, who has been on the Austin City Council since 2015, will run for Congress, he announced on Thursday.

Casar teased a race for the federal office last month, saying he was considering a run and had convened an advisory committee.

“I believe working families from Bexar to Comal to Hays to Travis County deserve a progressive leader who fights for and enforces reproductive rights, Medicare for all, good jobs and a better Texas,” he told KUT.

Casar, 32, will fight for the 35th Congressional District of Texas, which stretches from East Austin via I-35 to San Antonio. He must first win the Democratic primary, which is slated for March 2022. US MP Lloyd Doggett, who currently represents the district, announced last month that he would run for a new, more central Austin district, created in the latest redistribution efforts of the state legislature.

At least one other person, the community activist Claudia Zapata, has announced that she will run for the 35th district. Last month, Democratic State Representative Eddie Rodriguez, who has represented Austin’s House District 51 since 2002, told the KUT that he was also considering taking part in the race.

To run, Casar must vacate his seat as a representative of Austin City Council District 4, one of the most populous Latino districts in the city. He will keep his job until a new council member is elected in a special election. It’s unclear when exactly this would take place, but it will likely be in the next few months.

Those elected to fill the vacant Casar seat will serve for the remainder of their term, which ends in January 2025.

Casar’s election to the seat of District 4 eight years ago coincided with the change of the city to a new geographically representative government. He is one of 10 councilors who represent district residents across the city.

Casar, a former Houston community organizer and son of Mexican immigrants, became Austin’s youngest councilor when he was elected in 2014. During his two terms in office, he initiated policy changes on workers’ rights and affordable housing – some of which have been challenged and effectively challenged by the state defeated. He led a successful campaign in 2018 to get the council to mandate paid sick leave for home workers in the city, but that policy has yet to come into effect due to a legal challenge from Texas.

Casar said he hoped that through his service at the federal level, he could avoid state challenges to change that he has fought for at the local level.

“[State lawmakers] attacked the right to vote. You have attacked reproductive rights. And it doesn’t look like they’re really fixing the network, “he said. We need someone in Congress to do that so our families don’t freeze in the next storm.”

As for who could potentially replace Casar, Austin immigration attorney Chito Vela has announced on social media that he will run for the council seat once Casar’s candidacy for the U.S. Congress is official. He confirmed this to KUT on Wednesday.

I know the families of this diverse community very well and I would be proud to be your voice on the Council with your support. I’ve lived in Windsor Park and this part of Austin since 2005 since I moved here from Laredo in 1992 to study at the University of Texas.

– Chito Vela III (it chitovela3) October 20, 2021

Casar said housing price will be one of his main concerns during his final months on the council.

“I think we still have so much to do as a city on affordability,” he said. “We have to get a grip on the skyrocketing housing costs.”

Do you have a tip? Email Audrey McGlinchy at audrey@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.

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