Jeanette Strong: Julián Castro — people first
“He has and will always put people first.” — Megan Joy Macias, San Antonio resident.
In 1922, a 7-year-old orphan girl named Victoria Castro crossed the border from northern Mexico and entered the United States. Her parents had been killed during the Mexican Revolution, and relatives in San Antonio, Texas were able to give her a home. Some of those relatives had been living in Texas since it was part of Mexico. Her roots were deep in this country.
Because she was an orphan with little formal education, Victoria worked as a maid, a cook and a babysitter. Her daughter, Maria Castro, nicknamed Rosie, was born in 1947, and Victoria continued to work hard to give her daughter a better life. Rosie earned a degree in Spanish in 1971 and later earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Rosie devoted her life to working for social justice. Because of her work, she was elected to the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015. When her twin boys, Julián and Joaquin, were born in 1974, she raised them to work just as hard. Julián Castro once said, “My mother is probably the biggest reason that my brother and I are in public service.”
Julián Castro, current candidate for president, is continuing this tradition of service. He graduated from Stanford University in 1996 and Harvard Law School in 2000. In 2001, Castro ran for the San Antonio City Council against five other candidates and won, serving from 2001 to 2005. He was 26, the youngest city councilman in San Antonio’s history.
In 2005, Castro and his brother started their own law firm. In 2009, he ran for mayor of San Antonio, the seventh largest city in America. He won and was re-elected in 2011 and 2013, by wide margins. He was extremely successful and beloved by the people of San Antonio.
Megan Joy Macias, a resident of San Antonio and an intern on Castro’s Nevada presidential campaign staff, shared this with me: “I always knew who my mayor was because he was always out in the community, which continued even after his time as mayor… He was born and raised there, went to school there, raises his family there; he truly loves the people of San Antonio and has consistently stood up for them, which is why he is so beloved… He has and will always put people first.”
One of Castro’s core beliefs is that quality education should be available to everyone. Two of his signature achievements as mayor were universal pre-kindergarten for all children and cafécollege. Cafécollege, which opened its doors in 2010, is a program that gives free guidance to students to help them prepare for and apply to institutions of higher learning. Funding comes from several sources, and the program has helped over 53,900 students so far.
In 2012, Castro gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, the first Hispanic to do so. In 2014, he was chosen by President Barack Obama to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 71-26 and assumed his duties on July 28, 2014.
As Secretary of HUD, Castro was again very successful. He worked with people on all sides of the political spectrum to accomplish meaningful goals. One of his achievements was reducing veterans’ homelessness by 46 percent. He also launched a program called ConnectHome, which helps provide broadband and electronic devices to children in public housing. These experiences led to his People First Housing Platform, which includes solving the rental affordability crisis and boosting home ownership. The goal is safe, affordable housing for every American.
In 2016, Castro was considered as a possible vice-presidential candidate. In 2018, he formed a presidential exploratory committee and announced his candidacy for president on Jan. 12, 2019. Since then, Castro has been traveling all over America, including Nevada, talking to people and listening to their concerns. For example, he was the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to visit Flint, Michigan to discuss their ongoing water crisis.
Castro has developed strong positions and policies on many issues — health care, immigration, trade, environment, etc. For information on his plans and policies, go to julianforthefuture.com.
Julián Castro is the personification of the American Dream. His immigrant grandmother worked hard and raised a daughter who achieved a great deal. Victoria’s two grandsons, Julián and Joaquin, are continuing the family tradition of public service. Julián Castro will make an outstanding president.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.