San Antonio’s Julián Castro tries out to be new Obama

posted at 10:27 pm on September 4, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

Julián Castro is the first-term mayor of San Antonio, Texas. In political circles, he and his twin brother Joaquîn are bandied about as the next great Hispanic Hope (NYT‘s words, not mine!), the scions of a Texas activist family led by matriarch Rosie Castro. Julian surpassed the likes of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigoso to earn Tuesday’s keynote speaker slot at the Democratic National Convention.

Mark McKinnon said of Castro in 2010, “Julián Castro has a very good chance of becoming the first Hispanic president of the United States.”

Castro was famously ridiculed by President Obama during a jobs summit in 2009, as the New York Times recounted in the kind of glowing profile only afforded Democratic up-and-comers:

In early December, Julián Castro, the newly elected mayor of San Antonio, visited the White House to attend President Obama’s national jobs-and-economic-growth forum. Castro was one of only five mayors in attendance and, at 35, the youngest. When his turn came to speak — the subject was the creation of green jobs — the president looked at him, midway down the long conference table, and said: “I thought he was on our staff. I thought he was an intern. This guy’s a mayor?” The other participants — world-famous economists, environmentalists and politicians — burst into laughter.

Here he is in that exchange:

Making him the keynote speaker is a clear attempt to position him as the young 2004 Sen. Obama of 2012. It remains to be seen whether his speech will catapult him in the same way Obama’s did. He is fresh-faced, promising, Ivy-League educated, with a reputation for pragmatism— he’s free-trade—but he’s got something else in common with President Obama. A tendency to building his own warm, fuzzy, green reputation with someone else’s money:

A 2011 report cited $16 million in federal funds for weatherization in San Antonio:

The program was granted $12.4 million and later received $4.1 million of additional funds, due to its success. Of the $16.5 million in federal funds, which are administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, just $13.1 million has been spent, yet the program has surpassed its goals, the city said. City officials expect the program to have weatherized 3,400 homes by the spring of 2012.

At least he seems to use our money more efficiently than some.

He has pushed the publicly owned CPS energy company in San Antonio to abandon nuclear expansions and close coal plants in favor of solar.

A bike share program, courtesy of us:

San Antonio used about $850,000 in grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Centers for Disease Control to put in its system, which began in March, said Julia Diana, an analyst for the city’s Office of Environmental Policy. That paid for bikes, computerized kiosks and docking stations.

Our wallets are probably lucky his green dreams are held in check by the electoral sensibilities of a Texas city.

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