Julian Castro: “We’ll have a Latino president in my lifetime”

Young, dynamic – and Hispanic. Julian Castro, the young mayor of San
Antonio, gives a glimpse of America’s political future. Hispanics like
Castro, a Mexican-American, are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the
United States. Pundits predict that Castro, the first Hispanic mayor of
the United States’ seventh-largest city, will become the United States’
first Hispanic president. In fact, Castro and his identical twin
brother, Joaquin, a newly elected Congressman, form America’s newest
political dynasty. Meet Latino’s Barack Obama.

Q: Latino, Mexican-American, Texan, mayor, politician: which attribute describes you best?

A: A person who’s living through the early part of the 21st century, governing a city that’s on the rise. My role is determined as much by my generation as by anything else. My work in San Antonio has really been focused on preparing the city to compete in the 21st century global economy. The most important things in terms of what I’ve brought to my leadership position have been a sense that we need to create opportunities in order to create prosperity. I’m proud of my Latino background, of course, and proud of being a Texan and an American, but what I’m focused on is creating more opportunities and prosperity here in San Antonio.

Q: Latinos are the largest minority in the United States. Why have they, until now, been largely invisible in political leadership?

A: There’s no question that the Hispanic community has not voted at the rate of other communities. It’s improving, and we saw that in the last election. The number of Hispanics in elected positions has increased tremendously in the last two decades, but not at the highest levels: Congress and above.

Q: Why do most Latinos, including you, vote Democrat? Isn’t their work ethic more in line with Republican pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps values?

A: It’s not surprising that the vast majority of Latinos vote Democratic. Democrats embrace policies that create opportunity for people throughout the country, whether it’s investing in education or healthcare or small business. And there’s more inclusiveness on the Democratic side these days.

Q: As Mayor, which part of the Democratic platform do you feel most passionate about? Welfare? Education?

A: The great thing about being Mayor here in San Antonio is that it’s a non-partisan office, so I didn’t have to run as a Democrat or Republican. I enjoy working with different folks, no matter what their perspective is. If I had to run representing a party, I’d obviously run as a Democrat. As Mayor I focus on three things: enhancing educational achievement, matching a well-skilled workforce with jobs, and creating a more livable, vibrant city.

Q: Speaking of education, you and your brother both went on to Stanford, an elite university, after attending a public high school in San Antonio. How can more Latino teenagers get the same opportunity?

A: I feel very blessed that I had great educational opportunities, and as Mayor I’m determined to make sure that San Antonio has great educational opportunities, for example by expanding full-day pre-Kindergarten [editor's note: preschool] education. And we’ll continue working on improving public school education because that’s the surest way that an individual and a city can be competitive in the 21st century global economy.

Q: What would you tell a teenager, especially perhaps a Latino teenager who doesn’t feel that he has access to the best education, is key to success in today’s society?

A: Hard work. Believing in yourself. The surest way to succeed is to put in the time, work hard and have confidence that you can achieve what you want. My brother and I didn’t know that we’d get into Stanford or anywhere else, but we’d done well in school and just decided to apply. It worked out, but so many times people who have a lot of talent don’t believe enough in themselves, so they don’t find that opportunity because they sell themselves short. When we got to Stanford I did very well in terms of my grades. It was challenging but not overwhelming.

Q: Among your residents are many illegal immigrants. Should they be expelled or given amnesty to remain in the US?

A: I support comprehensive immigration reform, and I’m confident that Congress and the President will come to a good decision with legislation on comprehensive immigration reform. That will benefit the United States as a whole, and San Antonio as well.

Q: How, exactly?

A: It will allow people to come out of the shadows and go to the back of the line for citizenship. That creates safer communities, it allows young people to have good talent to make use of that talent and go to college. It would be dangerous to have a two-tiered society.

Q: Would you understand if legal immigrants feel unfairly treated if illegal immigrants are given the same opportunities as those who obey the rules?

A: I think we definitely need to make vast improvements to the legal immigration system as well. Right now the fact is that in the legal immigration system it takes too long to become a citizen. There needs to be improvements on that end, too.

Q: When I was in San Antonio just before the election, a young Hispanic woman told me that she didn’t have enough time to do research about all the candidates so she’d vote a straight Latino ticket, “because we have shared values”. Is voting along ethnic lines a good thing?

A: Nobody should ever vote for a candidate simply based on the candidate’s race or ethnicity. A candidate should be judged on his or her full merits: their ideology, their performance in office, their views on different issues. I don’t think that straight-ticket voting by party is the best idea either. People need to be fully engaged participants in democracy and evaluate candidates in full.

Q: Today there are more Latinos than African-Americans in the United States. African-Americans have their first President. When will Latinos get theirs?

A: It’s by no means a competition to see who gets there first. But I’m confident that with all the progress that the United States has made, people from many different backgrounds will become Presidents in my lifetime. So I do believe that within the next generation there will be a Latino president, and it will be someone who represents everyone, who is an American president, not a Latino president.

Q: An interesting result of Latinos’ growing prominence is that more US-born Latinos, including you, now learn Spanish. Why is it important to learn Spanish? In the past, the assumption has always been that immigrant groups will learn English.

A: I still need to improve my Spanish, actually! I understand it better than I speak it. But what you see among the youngest generation of Americans is that it’s a generation that speaks English, of course, but also understands the value of speaking a second language. In the 21st century economy understanding a second language is an economic advantage, so it makes sense that people want to learn a second language, whether it’s Spanish, Mandarin or another language.

Q: How are your Spanish classes going?

A: I’m not taking Spanish classes right now. I need to improve though! I’m learning little by little.

Q: Feliz navidad to you.

A: Merry Christmas and feliz navidad.

CV

Name: Julian Castro

Age: 38

Born and lives in: San Antonio, Texas

Background: Born to Mexican-American parents. Bachelor’s degree from Stanford; law degree from Harvard.

Family: Parents, identical twin brother Joaquin, newly elected member of Congress. “He’s being sworn in on January 3″, says Julian. “We’ll all be out there [in Washington] with him. He’s very excited about it.”

In the news: Youngest mayor of a major American city. San Antonio is the United States’ largest Latino-majority city. Made international headlines with his keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. (Giving the keynote speech at the 2004 DNC catapulted Barack Obama towards the presidency.) Tipped to become country’s first Latino president.

Did you know? When running for Congress this year, Joaquin used Julian’s old campaign office. It was impossible to tell which brother the smiling young man on the posters was.

Twitter: @JulianCastro



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Arts

Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…