Julián Castro on What It Would Mean to Be the First Latino President
Julian Castro talked to People CHICA about what he learned from his activist mother and what he hopes to achieve should he win the presidency.
Julián Castro, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, sat down with People en Español digital executive editor Shirley Velasquez and opened up about his campaign. The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former San Antonio mayor has high hopes for the coming election. “I see people out there that are energized and that are woken up to the change that we need to make in this country because of how bad the last few years have been,” he says. “They are getting out there and they are running for office, or they are volunteering at their church or their community group or at their place of employment, but they are finding a way to make a difference for other people and that's very inspiring.”
Castro says his mother, Rosie Castro, a former political activist, inspired his career in public service. “She was a hell-raiser. When she was young she was part of the old Chicano movement, the Mexican American civil rights movement,” he recalls. “She ran for city council when she was 23 years old, one of the first Latinas to run for city council. She didn't win, but when my brother and I were growing up she used to drag us to rallies and speeches and organizational meetings,” he says. “I hated it at the time. What 9- or 10-year-old would like it? You think it's boring. But what I got out of all of it is that you should find a way to help other people, and I really got the idea that being involved in public service and participating in our democratic process is worth it.”
He admits that at 15, he never thought he would be running for president, and shares what his kids think about him running for the highest office. “My 4-year-old, Cristian, just wants me to be at home and playing a monster chasing him around the house,” he says with a laugh. “My daughter Carina is 10 years old and I think she's very proud. She also kind of wonders what the whole thing is about still, but I hope what she is getting out of it is that same sense that we should do something for other people, that sense that I got from watching my mom when I was growing up.” He regrets being away from his home for “75 percent of the time” because of his campaign obligations, but says his wife of 20 years, public school educator Erica Lira, has been a great support. “I hope that our children are getting the sense that you should reach for your dream,” he says.
Castro talked about the positive differences he hopes to make in this country, like confronting the climate crisis and taking action to protect the planet. He also hopes to invest in public schools, make higher education affordable, reform the criminal justice system, and address the opioid crisis in America, among other priorities.
He also reflected on the possibility of becoming the first Latino president of the United States. “There is both a pressure and a feeling of pride in the community,” he says. “There is a pressure because I know other people will judge Latinos coming after me in part by what I do in this campaign and how well I do.” He adds that he feels empowered knowing that as he was standing on the debate stage, there were Latinx children watching the TV screen from home and seeing someone “that looks like them and talks like them, especially during these times when for many in the community they feel targeted.” “Whatever happens in this campaign”, he concludes, “I hope that a whole generation of little Latinas and little Latinos will be inspired to reach higher for their dreams.”