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TRIBEZA's 10 to Watch 2015 | Gregorio Casar

There are wunderkinds and then there is Austin City Council Member Gregorio “Greg” Casar. At just 25, Casar is the youngest person ever elected to the Austin City Council, and in less than a year, he has become one of the most successful members on the city’s first 10-1 council. Despite weathering a recall election and subsequent lawsuit from his embittered District 4 opponent, Casar was named the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Elected City Official” in 2015.

Catch us up on your past year:

Austin’s local government in 2015 has felt like the Wild West. It’s the first year that Austin has been governed by a Council elected in 10 single-member districts. The result was that 10 of the 11 elected officials, including myself, are brand new. Old ways of doing business have been thrown out, and we’re working hard to fill the void with bold action to deal with our biggest issues: income inequality and the erosion of workers’ rights, skyrocketing housing prices and traffic woes without much mass transit available.

So far, my team and I have helped bring park space to some of the worst urban parks deserts in North Austin. We’ve organized the first two neighborhood associations in mobile home communities in Austin — one of which was facing mass eviction before they organized. We’ve raised wages and provided health insurance for many of our lowest-paid employees and have championed other workers’ rights initiatives. And we’re fighting for a massive increase in mixed-income housing throughout the city.

Is there anything that frustrates you about Austin?

I love how much we love our city, we love our people, and we hold on to an egalitarian spirit that’s rare in Texas. The challenge? Too often, Austinites know what we stand against, but we can’t figure out what we stand for.

What inspires you?

So many young people throughout our country’s history have been a part of making our society a better place. From students sitting in at lunch counters in Nashville to young workers demanding fair pay at North Austin’s Economy Furniture store, young folks have always been a part of pushing the envelope. I feel like I get to be a part of that same movement every day in my job.

How do you get it all done?

My incredible staff. Folks thought we’d be the underdogs since my team is made up of entirely 20-and-30-somethings. But the amount of work we get done as an office is really unmatched, I think, because of their commitment to making Austin a better place to live. They’re my family here. Just like any good family, they not only take care of me, but push me to do what’s right.

What helps you get through creative blocks?

A long bike ride with my Neil Young playlist.

Who is your style icon?

Mos Def.

Who is your creative icon?

James Baldwin.

Tell us what to expect from you in 2016:

Relentless work from my office to get us off the list of most economically segregated cities in the country. We have a lot of work to do on making sure our neighborhoods are affordable and integrated.

CREDITS

Portraits by Bill Sallans | Styling by Ashley Horsley | Hair by Gabrielle van Der Meer | Make up by Bethany Renfro of Lip Service

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