Ogden council candidate Raymond wants to build up local transportation
OGDEN — A fresh City Council candidate wants the city to work for those who have already been living here before chasing after additional residents.
On Friday, Austin Raymond confirmed to the Standard-Examiner he will be running for the 4th District City Council seat set to be vacated by Ben Nadolski, who is running for mayor.
Despite being 21, Raymond said he’s already had experience with politics.
“I’ve already been working for a year or so in politics,” he said. “I was actually the campaign manager for the Andrew Badger for Congress campaign last year, and I’ve been helping with some political groups and organizing ever since then.”
He said that a short-lived job in customer service also helped to inspire him.
“I loved talking to people and I loved helping them,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in politics, so that made me want to really do that kind of work. I wanted to work to help people and make people’s lives better, listen to their stories, listen to what they’re going through, what’s going on and try to help them as best as I can.”
Raymond cited what he sees as negative changes in the city as his reason for throwing his name into the council race.
“I’ve grown up in this area — I was born here, raised here — same with my parents and family,” he said. “Everyone in my family and that I’m friends with have noticed over the past two years or so, you drive around and the city is just changing. In some regards, I don’t think it’s changing for the better. You drive around and it feels like there’s new, basic, three-story condo building going up in every block. It feels like the city is so focused on expansion and bringing new people in when I think it really should be focused on improving the lives of the people who are already living here in Ogden.”
He said it’s been noticeable even beyond Ogden’s borders.
“What I noticed last year working for a political campaign, driving all over the state and seeing these different cities is Ogden has a less-than-stellar reputation among the state,” he said. “In some ways, we aren’t doing as good as other cities, and I want us to be better than those other cities because we care.”
Raymond said one of the major items he wants to tackle is public transit in the city.
“There’s a bit of a college town to this city,” he said. “A lot of these students who may be staying around student housing at Weber State, it’s hard for them to get cars or they don’t have cars. They should be able to get around with ease. I love driving as much as the next person — I really do love it — but sometimes you don’t want to drive. Sometimes people can’t drive because they can’t get a car. Maybe they’re younger or impoverished. Cars are expensive. … I would love to make a push to improve the public transportation in Ogden.”
He also wants to see about experiments revitalizing downtown Ogden with car-free areas.
“You’ve been seeing, across the country, these car-free areas in downtown to make walkability better,” he said. “I’ve walked through downtown before and it’s not the easiest thing. Everywhere these car-free areas have been tried, they’ve been loved.”
Raymond said that, ultimately, he’d be a councilor for all.
“I’ve worked in partisan stuff in politics before, but I think it’s a great thing the council race and mayoral race are nonpartisan,” he said. “That kind of partisan bickering is able to stay out and everyone here can be committed.”