Lucas Ramirez first took an interest in politics because of the Caltrain. When he was a college student during the 2008 recession, there were concerns that budgetary constraints imposed on the Caltrain, which he took every day, would limit its service: the first time he saw the direct effect that local government had on his life. Now, as of last week’s council meeting, he’s officially the mayor of Mountain View.
“I was able to learn a lot about what city work does, and its importance on quality of life and just how people are able to live and work and play in their communities. It’s sort of stuck,” Ramirez said.
As mayor, Ramirez said that Mountain View will continue to tackle issues of housing and support the community throughout the pandemic. The council’s top priority is focusing on the goals outlined in its strategic roadmap, which consists of seven key areas, including intentional development & housing options, mobility and connectivity, sustainability & climate resiliency and economic vitality, according to Ramirez.
Ramirez has worked with the City of Mountain View, his hometown, for nearly a decade now; he was first appointed to the human relations commission, then the planning commission, then city council, and at last being elected mayor. He served as vice mayor last year.
“One thing I like about local government [is that] anyone can get involved,” Ramirez said. “I’m not special. I studied music in college when I didn’t have any plans to go into local government. It just sort of occurred naturally because I had a particular interest in something.”
After college, Ramirez returned to Mountain View, where he became involved in community groups focusing on transportation, including the League of Women Voters, in which he said he “learned through osmosis.”
And while being mayor of Mountain View is his “night job,” Ramirez’s “day job” is also in local government — he’s on the staff of a councilmember in San Jose.
“I’m excited to be mayor, but also nervous; it’s a tremendous responsibility,” Ramirez said. “There’s a lot of work and I work full time, so it’s going to be challenging to balance both of the positions I have: my day job and then this role [but] I think it will be an extraordinary and amazing experience.”
Ramirez said he’s especially looking forward to addressing housing this upcoming year, in which a major component will be the housing element — a document that outlines city housing strategies for the next eight years.
“I think it will take a lot of thought and it’s very important to get community on that document that will shape our future, not just the next year, but the next 30 years,” Ramirez said. “So it will be very important to make sure all voices are heard and come up with some consistency about how the city will grow.”
Additionally, the city will shape two housing proposals in the North Bayshore and East Whisman locations. If implemented, these plans would create new communities and neighborhoods, while replacing suburban office parks.
Other significant plans noted by Ramirez for this year include implementing state laws — such as SB-9, which changes single family zoning — and considering recommendations from the city’s public safety advisory board on school resource officers.
“We have been beset by calamity after calamity,” Ramirez said. “The challenges that we’ve had to contend with are numerous and unrelenting. … In this difficult context, the residents of Mountain View have selected the seven [councilmembers] to represent them, to advocate for them, and to conduct the business of the city. Maybe I’m a little biased, but I think they’ve assembled a stellar team.”
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Ramirez was a high schooler during 2008. He was a college student at Santa Clara University.