By Christopher Maher

When David Ramirez made the decision to submit his name as a write-in candidate for Justice of the Peace Pct. 3, he had one goal in mind - find a way to make a difference in the lives of children in his community.

"I kept going back to see where I could really make a difference," Ramirez said. "A J.P.'s position, where kids actually get in trouble and you have to deal with people who have problems, that's my niche."

Ramirez grew up in Kingsville, where he graduated from H.M King High School in 1990. In 1991, he enrolled in Texas A&I University as a political science major, but left school in 1993 to accept a job as an operator with the Celanese plant in Bishop. Ramirez has worked at the plant for the past 17 years.

He and his wife, Nadia, have two teenage daughters. Erica, 19, lives in Kingsville, while Adriana, 15, attends high school in Bishop.

Ramirez said that for years he never really paid much attention to local politics. But that attitude changed after a stint as a little league coach. As Ramirez saw some kids who were on his team grow up and get into trouble with the law, he began to wonder how he could prevent that from happening in the future.

As a justice of the peace, Ramirez said he would set up a rotating schedule in which he would visit one school in his precinct for an hour a day. He would use that time to get to know students - and have them get to know him.

"I want to develop relationships with the kids at the school level that will spill over and bridge out onto the street level," Ramirez said. "I want to be the safety net that catches them before they get to the thug life, the drug dealing life, the drug using life, the alcoholism."

Ramirez said he would also work to implement a mentor program that would bring police officers, fire fighters or other community leaders to the primary schools to work with young children.

"(I would) Take them to the elementary school or the primary school and have them tell their story. Tell them how they got to where they got and have these kids develop a vision of what they want to be," Ramirez said.

When asked what separates him from the incumbent justice of the peace, Adolfo Contreras, Ramirez said he would work with parents to make a better life for their children.

"I promise I will be looking out for these kids," Ramirez said. "I want their kids to be able to shoot higher, I want their kids to get educated and go to college.

"I just want to spend time in schools, develop relationships, and make sure every kid has a dream and follows through with it."