Tristan Ramirez does not want to be a politician. He hopes to be more.
“I don’t want to be elected to office and just be known as a city councilman,” Ramirez said. “I want to be known as a member of the community, as a servant of the community. That’s really all I want.”
Ramirez is running to represent District 1, which includes a large part of the Texas Tech University community, on the Lubbock City Council. Though the Student Government Association external vice president works with city government to represent the student body, Ramirez is the first student to actively pursue an elected position on the council.
Originally from Karnes City, Texas, Ramirez came to Texas Tech in 2013 to study political science, hoping to attend the Texas Tech School of Law in the future. Due to financial reasons, he had to take this semester off. Ramirez is currently working the night shift at Whataburger to make ends meet and save up money for the next semester.
Because he understands what it is like to be a student and a blue-collar worker, at 21 years old, Ramirez thinks he is an ideal candidate to represent his community.
“I feel like I really understand the struggle of just ordinary, working people because that is my life,” Ramirez said. “I’m a student, but I’m also one of them. So, I think I really understand both sides of the district, both the students and the non-students, because I essentially straddle the line between both.”
Ramirez’s work ethic and determination are what made him stand out to visiting professor Robert Krueger. A retired Texas senator, congressman and U.S. ambassador, Krueger said Ramirez impressed him as a student in his “Heroes in Life and Literature” course. He knew Ramirez worked the night shift, but said he was still a punctual and attentive student who gave excellent, thought-provoking speeches. Creating a mentoring relationship, Krueger and Ramirez have since become close.
Krueger’s encouragement and financial support gave Ramirez the confidence to begin the campaign.
“He puts himself through college and was an A+ student,” Krueger said. “Should I not support someone like that if he’s going to run for office? What else would I be looking for? If we can get people like that in public government, that’s who should be there, in my judgment.”
Being caring, genuine and strong are the most important qualities of a public servant, according to Krueger. Ramirez hopes to exemplify each of these qualities.
“If I get elected to this office, I feel like as long as I approach the job with care, with courage, with integrity, then there’s nothing that differentiates me from any other candidate,” Ramirez said.
To best represent everyone in District 1, Ramirez has canvased neighborhoods, talking to community members about their concerns. If elected, he hopes to increase the street lighting and ensure fair enforcement of ordinances for all District 1 constituents.
Ramirez also hopes to reevaluate parking ordinances that seem to target the Texas Tech area. Awareness of parking rules and increased signage could decrease the frequency of towing, he said, potentially saving Lubbockites money and stress.
Ramirez would also like to revise the ordinance that limits the number of people who can live in a single-family dwelling. Affectionately referred to as “The Brothel Ordinance,” Ramirez said the rule hinders Greek organizations from utilizing their multimillion-dollar houses in the best possible way. He hopes to revise it to allow a reasonable number of members to live in the Greek houses.
Registering Texas Tech students to vote is another passion of Ramirez’s. Cole Adams, Ramirez’s campaign manager, estimates that fewer than 1,000 Texas Tech students are registered to vote in Lubbock County, something Ramirez would like to change.
“What we’re trying to do with this campaign is bridge the gap between students and the rest of the Lubbock community,” Ramirez said. “Students are just as big of a part of the city as everyone else. We really want to engage the students and engage the whole city, and make sure that everyone is represented fairly on the city council.”
Three other candidates are running for the District 1 city council seat, which was vacated when current council member Victor Hernandez chose to run for mayor. Though the other candidates have varying amounts of political experience and support, Ramirez believes that as long as the district understands what he stands for, he has a chance at winning the May 7 election.
“For me, it’s not about starting some kind of political career or trying to get money or get a title,” Ramirez said. “To me, it’s just about serving the community.”
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