By Aaron Sekhri
Julian Castro ‘96, mayor of San Antonio, spoke to The Daily shortly after Barack Obama was reelected to his second term as president of the United States. Castro was elected mayor of San Antonio in 2009 and was, at the time, the youngest mayor in the history of America’s 50 largest counties.
Castro attracted national media attention this September as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. He spoke with The Daily on the president’s re-election, the Latino vote and the election of twin his brother Joaquin Castro ‘96 to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Stanford Daily (TSD): Your reactions for the election result, Mayor Castro?
Julian Castro (JC): Very happy that the President has been reelected; he earned it. The nation made a lot of progress over the last four years, and voters rewarded the president for the progress we’ve made as a nation under his watch.
TSD: How will the shifting demographics of the United States shape presidential elections to come?
JC: The Republican Party has backed itself into a political corner. The Democratic Party is the big tent party in America now. This election and the 2008 election made this very clear. It’s necessary for the Republican Party to reach out more to Hispanics and women, and go beyond the right-wing ideology that has propelled it over the last few electoral cycles.
TSD: Do you think Latinos played a big role in Obama’s re-election tonight?
JC: Absolutely. The exit polling from tonight shows that more than 70 percent of Latinos supported the president. That’s more than any candidate since Bill Clinton in 1996, and particularly in battleground states, the Latino vote has grown quickly and made a big impact. What the Latino surge in voting means for the Republican Party is that they need to change their stance on immigration, in investment in education and in healthcare or they risk losing an even greater share of the fastest growing community in the United States.
TSD: You famously said in your DNC speech, “It starts with education.” What will President Obama do with a second term in the space of education, and what do you hope he will do?
JC: I hope he’ll continue to invest in Pell grants and student loans that make college more affordable and more accessible to young people. I hope that he will continue to invest in Race to the Top and other education reforms that improve public schools around the country. And I hope that he’ll work with Republicans to find common ground on those education issues.
TSD: What will President Obama’s re-election mean for San Antonio residents in particular?
JC: San Antonio is a city on the rise. San Antonio is a city of many people who are aspiring, a lot of working class families who believe that they will be benefited by Obamacare, by investment in Pell grants and by student loan reform. And so I’m confident that the vast majority of San Antonio will be benefited by the president’s policies. San Antonio also has a seat at the table with the administration, so that will be healthy.
TSD: The subject of immigration is a testy, difficult one that many congresses have attempted to solve, unsuccessfully. How should immigration reform be addressed by the president and the new Congress?
JC: The president will have a prime opportunity to address immigration reform in his next term — I’m convinced that he’ll do it. The Republicans heard a strong message from the Latino community tonight that they must address comprehensive immigration reform and the Dream Act, and I believe they will.
TSD: Your brother enters perhaps one of the most dysfunctional organs of America’s governing body. How will a once again divided Congress impact the legislation that comes out of Washington?
JC: It’s hard to tell, but President Obama certainly got a mandate tonight. My hope is that the Republican Congress with him and Democrats to meet in the middle. That’s the overwhelming message that American voters sent tonight. Hopefully my brother will enter a Congress where there will be more compromise than before.
TSD: On day one of the new president’s day in office, what’s the agenda?
JC: To continue focusing on creating jobs, bringing the economy back, to collaborate with both parties [and] find common ground on important issues that affect the American people, like education, immigration reform and others.
TSD: And finally, how are you celebrating tonight?
JC: Well, I already went to two victory parties for my brother, and we had an education initiative on the ballot that’s called Pre-K 4 SA [which passed], and now I’m going to go meet up with many of the volunteers and the staff to thank them. Right now, I’m actually at City Hall watching the election coverage.