By Kristian Jaime
As the crowd gathered at the newly minted â€œCastro for Mayorâ€ campaign headquarters, it was not long before many realized the race was about to reach a fever pitch.
Mayoral candidate Julian Castro spoke to an enthused crowd as he officially opened his campaign headquarters on 3003 Broadway.
(Photo, Kristian Jaime)
Julian Castro, who is gearing up for his second run for the city's highest office, assured supporters that his new home base at 3003 Broadway was the start of the groundswell that would propel him to victory.
â€œWe are very appreciative of the support in all of San Antonio. This campaign is focused on taking a citywide perspective to the mayor's office,â€ said Julian Castro. â€œIt's about creating jobs in this city in short order. So we need to focus on more bond projects and accelerate more local jobs in the construction industry as well as the engineering arena. We also need to keep the jobs that are here.â€
Among his proposed focus is on working with educational institutions to prepare a workforce for the next phase of San Antonio's growth. Castro was also quick to note that despite recent moves by industry giants like AT&T and Toyota, the city has enjoyed an economic boon.
â€œThe city can collaborate with local universities and the state now that Dr. Francisco Cigarroa works with the UT Board of Regents to make the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) the research facility it needs to be. That also includes lobbying for more money to make it a tier one research location,â€ continued Castro.
Citing the recent November election across the city, the Castro campaign is banking on similar interest in the mayoral race which concludes May 9. Record low voter turnout is just one of the issues that all of the mayoral candidates will face. A dismal 10 percent in 2007 is already a number Castro hopes will improve.
â€œWe are taking this campaign to every neighborhood and knock on every door to get folks out to vote,â€ admitted Castro.
Angela Garcia, precinct chair for 2046 and chief of staff for the national office of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), was just one many who was all but sure that the Castro campaign was prepared for months of block-walking ahead.
â€œThis is a very exciting time now that we may have a Hispanic mayor in this city,â€ said Garcia noting the large percentage of minorities. â€œI urge all parts of the city to vote for Julian Castro. I think for all that Phil Hardberger has done, we still need to reach out on issues like education other than focusing on truancy.â€
In the coming months, an army of volunteers will focus on everything from distributing signs and phone banking to increase the attention on Castro's platform of economic stimulus and sustainable industries in the seventh largest city in the country.
â€œJulian had very much support the last time he ran for Mayor and even those who supported Hardberger the last election are looking to Julian again to win the seat,â€ admitted Garcia.
Aiding the Castro campaign is Cuauhtemoc â€œTemoâ€ Figueroa, the national field director for President Barack Obama for America. With the recent presidential election still fresh in the minds of local voters, Figueroa hoped to use some of the same grassroots tactics seen on the national scene.
â€œI think we have a broad network of people that is not only familiar with the Castro family, but have seen Julian grow up in this city,â€ said Figueroa. â€œOne of things every successful candidate learns is how to grow from the mistakes they made in the past. The bright person that he is, he analyzed what he did right and what he did wrong. One of the things he did was hire the team that beat him the first time he ran.â€
As â€œTemoâ€ broke down the numbers needed to secure a victory in the campaign, he cited the high number of registered voters, but the low number of those who actually voted. The solution? A grassroots campaign that is designed to inspire people to participate.
â€œThere is not magic bullet or secret answer to getting people to vote. I think that if people take in upon themselves to get their family out to vote and everyone else for that matter, that is where it starts. That is actually very similar to the President Barack Obama for America campaign,â€ Figueroa explained.
For more information on the candidate or to find out where to volunteer, visit www.castroformayor.com.