SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Democrats and Republicans alike welcomed President Obama’s nomination on Friday of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to be the next secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

If approved by the Senate, Castro will be the third Hispanic in the current 15-member Cabinet. Castro would replace Shaun Donovan, whom Obama has nominated to head the Office of Management and Budget. Obama, Castro and Donovan spoke in the State Dining Room of the White House on Friday.

State Reps. Trey Martínez Fischer, D-San Antonio, and Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, issued a joint statement.

“As members who grew up on the Westside of San Antonio, our hometown’s economic success and cultural vibrancy is a great source of personal pride for us, and for our entire state. As Latino leaders, we are inspired by Mayor Castro’s deep commitment to making San Antonio one of the best cities in the world to live and work in,” Martinez Fischer and Villalba said.

“This appointment would place him among the ranks of bipartisan Latino leaders like former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutiérrez and U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Pérez. Regardless of party or ideology, his nomination is a testament to the natural character of Texas that will continue to breed leaders who will take this country into the future.”

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro speaks at the White House on Friday after President Obama nominated him for Secretary of HUD. (Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing)
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro speaks at the White House on Friday after President Obama nominated him for Secretary of HUD. (Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing)

In his remarks at the White House, Castro pointed out that he grew up on a housing project on the west side of San Antonio and that he and his family used public transportation. “To be your nominee, President Obama, is simply a blessing to me,” Castro said. “I am here alone at the podium right now, but I stand on the shoulders of so many folks over the generations who have worked very hard and dreamt the American Dream and have reached it,” Castro said.

Castro would not be the first mayor of San Antonio to serve as HUD secretary. Henry Cisneros forged that path. “It’s a very proud day for San Antonio. He’s demonstrated strong capabilities in San Antonio that are going to serve him very well,” Cisneros said.

Castro, and his twin brother Joaquin, a U.S. Congressman from San Antonio, are no strangers to the Rio Grande Valley. They have made multiple visits to promote better education, healthcare and economic development.

U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, said: “I was honored to be at the White House to witness President Obama officially nominate San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to serve as the next Secretary of the Department of Urban Development. As a fellow Texan, it is with great pride that I congratulate Mayor Castro, whom I believe is an excellent choice. I am confident he will serve our country well in his new capacity. I urge the Senate to confirm Mayor Castro’s nomination as soon as possible.”

On Facebook, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said: “Congratulations, Mayor Castro, on your nomination to be the next Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I know you will make San Antonio and Texas proud as you serve in Washington.”

U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said: “Congratulations to Mayor Julián Castro – one of the Lone Star State’s shining stars. He is practical, puts principle before party, works hard and will make an excellent Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Just as importantly, Julián will serve as an inspiration to millions of young men and women across the country and reinforce the fact that ours truly is a nation of opportunity.”

Gallego went on to say that San Antonio will miss Castro but the city’s loss is the nation’s gain. “I wish the Secretary-designate well in the upcoming confirmation process. I have no doubt he’ll be an outstanding member of the President’s cabinet.”

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, offered this assessment of the nomination: “My family and all of San Antonio have been blessed to have Julián Castro serve us, first as our City Council Member, and then for the past five years as Mayor. We would love to have him even longer, but when the President asks you to step up and serve your nation, that is a powerful calling.

“Guiding the seventh largest city in the nation through a time of growth and dynamic change has prepared him well to serve as Housing and Urban Development Secretary. I’m proud of his family history — he grew up in the Alazán-Apache Courts, a housing project on San Antonio’s West Side, giving him first-hand knowledge of the struggles of the families he will help.

“Under his leadership, San Antonio has been recognized as one of the best places in the United States for families and businesses to flourish. I congratulate him on this new chapter in his life — I know he will make San Antonio and Texas proud.”

Like his twin brother, Mayor Castro is a Democrat. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa released the following statement: “As mayor, Julián Castro has been a champion for opportunity and growth. He’s served the people of San Antonio well for many years and we know he is going to do great things for the rest of the country serving in the cabinet. While in Washington, Mayor Castro will be a credit to our state, showing the nation what it means to be a Texas Democrat.”

The Southwest Voter Registration Education Project is the oldest and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit, organization of its kind. It has registered 2.5 million Latino voters and trained over 150,000 Latino leaders, many of whom currently serve as public servants at the local, state and national levels. It was founded in San Antonio.

“Julian Castro’s nomination by President Obama to serve as HUD Secretary is great news. Mayor Castro has the intellect, policy expertise, and executive experience to serve as an effective HUD Secretary,” said Antonio González, SVREP President.

“At a time when federal programs have been largely ineffective at preventing foreclosures of millions of underwater American homeowners and Latino and Black wealth has been dramatically eroded, Mayor Castro’s leadership is sorely needed.”

Lydia Camarillo, SVREP Vice President, said Castro’s nomination will be an “inspiration” to the people of San Antonio and Latinos in America. “It will be an opportunity to Republican and Democratic Senators alike to put aside partisan differences and speedily confirm him in the spirit of national unity,” Camarillo said.

“SVREP stands ready to work with HUD Secretary Nominee Castro in his important role to energize urban communities across American, particularly Latino neighborhoods.”

The non-partisan National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials also praised the nomination of Castro. Its secretary is Edinburg CISD board member Robert Peña.

“We applaud President Obama for nominating San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to serve as the nation’s next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and third Latino cabinet member. A third-term mayor of the nation’s seventh largest city, Castro would bring bold leadership and a wealth of economic expansion and community development experience to this critical position,” NALEO said.

“During his three terms in office, Mayor Castro has implemented groundbreaking initiatives to attract higher paying 21st century jobs and spur urban core revitalization within the City of San Antonio. As part of these efforts, Mayor Castro has worked to attract businesses and residents back to the city’s center through a campaign known as the ‘Decade of Downtown.’ Two years after Mayor Castro launched the initiative, more than 2,400 housing units representing a total investment of $349.8 million have been slated for construction by the end of 2014 in San Antonio’s center city. Under Mayor Castro’s leadership, San Antonio also begun plans to expand the city’s convention center and restore the site of the 1968 world’s fair HemisFair Park, to its former glory as a world-class public space.”

NALEO went on to say that Castro is a “rising star within the nation’s deep bench of talented Latino elected officials on both sides of the aisle.” It said Castro has built an extraordinary record of accomplishment in the five short years he has led the City of San Antonio, pointing out that under his leadership, the City of San Antonio was named in 2013 one of seven ‘enterprising cities’ in America by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its success in building a culture of business.

“If confirmed, we know Mayor Castro will bring his ‘can do’ attitude and visionary leadership to Washington D.C. for the benefit of the President and all Americans. We call on the U.S. Senate to act swiftly to confirm Mayor Castro so that he may get to work as the nation’s next U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Our organization stands ready to work side-by-side with the President to support Mayor Castro’s nomination to this important post and to identify other qualified Latino candidates with the unique talent and expertise required to serve the nation at all levels of the Administration,” NALEO said.