San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was re-elected on Saturday with a whopping 67 percent of the vote. Castro will serve his third two-year term as mayor.
"I love being mayor, I love getting up and going to work and I want to thank the voters for giving me the opportunity to go back to city hall," said Mayor Castro.
And what a mayor he has been. In November, Castro campaigned successfully for an 1/8th cent sales tax increase to fund pre-kindergarten classes for San Antonio children. The funding will provide pre-K for 22,400 students over four years. Castro has instituted a car share program in San Antonio, added 108 salad bars in San Antonio schools, and helped invigorate the economy to the point where some have named San Antonio the best-performing local economy in the country.
Read more and watch Castro's DNC speech below the jump.
(Thanks to reader Randy for this tremendous overview of the ongoing elections in San Antonio! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Just like almost every other municipality in Texas, San Antonio is in the early voting stages for citywide elections scheduled for May 11th.
These elections really exemplify the late Speaker Tip O'Neill's famous adage "All politics is local." It just doesn't get more local than voting for your city council member or school board trustee. Yet, these elections also seem to draw the lowest voter turnouts across Texas. In San Antonio, while presidential election years will draw 60-65% of the voters, muni elections often draw no more than 5-10%, even in hotly contested years. But even with those low numbers, the drama of the races is no less. So how do the races look on the muni ballot?
In Gallego's opening remarks, he spoke of the modern American Dream. In his speech, he told the story of Josue Obregon, a Retired United States Marine Corporal:
This is a story from Del Rio, Texas. Retired United States Marine Corporal Josue Obregon filed a petition for his wife Estéfania who still lived in Ciudad Acuña. The young couple was expecting their first child- when she suffered from an internal cyst which would require a blood transfusion.
She could not get the appropriate medical treatment in Mexico. And even though Mrs. Obregon had been approved for a spousal visa, it was still "being processed."
She would not be allowed to come to the United States to get the treatment she and her unborn child needed without an emergency visa.
Read the rest of the Obregons' story and Congressman Gallego's speech below the fold.
On Monday Texas politicians redrew battlelines over the proposed Medicaid expansion in Texas. Governor Perry, and U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz defied the will of Texans and ignored good fiscal sense by essentially making a public pledge to keep Texas' status as having the highest uninsured population in the United States. Democrats including Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Congressman Joaquin Castro, Mayor Julian Castro and several state legislators held their own press conference with budget experts, health professionals, local elected officials, and Medicaid recipients to make the case that Texas' citizens and the state budget would greatly benefit from the federal funds.
The offer on the table from the federal government is worth more than $100 billion to Texas over 10 years, with the state's portion incrementally increasing before being capped at 10%.
The math is simple and missing this opportunity adds up to more local taxes. If the state opts out of contributing to indigent care, the burden will merely be shifted to counties, charities and families already facing economic hardship. This case was made strongly by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, saying it was, "unfair to local tax payers". Perry said Texas needed the, "flexibility to care for our own in a manner that makes sense both effectively and financially.", however as state Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington) said, "after 12 years of Governor Perry's health care policies, we have the highest rate of uninsured in the nation." Perry wants a block grant so he can take the money but still keep control over implementation and benefits. Judging by his call to drug test TANF recipients I'd hate to see what eligibility would look like under that regime.
Congressman Doggett called Governor's request for a block grant "blockheaded" and Congressman Castro said Perry needed "to lose the swagger and get serious." Both men cited Republican governors who have put partisan politics aside to help the uninsured in their state and asked the Governor to reconsider sitting down with the Obama Administration to workout a deal.
One Texas, the PAC founded by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio), produced a great video of Republican Governors who have signed on the Medicaid expansion for the "moral" reason. During the press conference, TMF addressed the Governor, stating that "'no', is not a public policy," and suggested that the he should accept Medicaid in the spirit of Easter and Jesus' teachings, "feeding the hungry, healing the sick." He urged state leaders to act now and not to put off the most important business of the day saying, "manana" was the busiest day in the legislature.
Ted Cruz hoisted his Don't Tread On Me flag in full defiance of compromise saying he was proud of Texas as Republicans in other states were "giving in." The House budget debate will begin Thursday, but the House Republican Caucus, surely under a great deal of pressure from the Governor, has already voted to reject proposed Medicaid expansion, but left the possibility of negotiations with the federal government open.
Check out more pictures from the Perry press conference protesters via Progress Texas on Facebook.
With Battleground Texas stoking hopes of turning Texas into a swing state by the 2016 presidential election, more attention is being paid to organizing during the interim. Before the 2014 midterms, Texas Dems have an amazing opportunity to identify supporters, mobilize communities, and train organizers and activists this year. Major cities in Texas will be having municipal elections this year. In competitive contests for offices from Mayor to City Councilperson, millions of dollars will be spent and countless organizing opportunities will arise. I have put together an overview of the Mayoral contests in the biggest cities in Texas:
Shaping up to be the most expensive and possibly most divisive of the city races, Houston's mayoral race pits incumbent Annise Parker against former City Attorney and current superlawyer Ben Hall. First elected in 2009 in a runoff victory against Gene Locke, Parker narrowly avoided another runoff in her reelection campaign in 2011, winning 50.4 percent of the vote against a slew of unknown candidates. Because of Ben Hall's ability to fundraise and large personal resources, the race is likely to be much more competitive this time around. The unaccounted variable in the race is potential entry of a Republican candidate in the race.
Golden Boy, Future Presidential Nominee, and Great Brown Hope of the Texas Democratic Party Julian Castro still has to win re-election as Mayor of San Antonio this year before he can fulfill the wish of every democrat in Texas. He is facing an array of newbie and perennial candidates with little name ID or campaign funds. As of this writing, unless something crazy happens between now and Election Day, he will cruise to re-election without having to stop his current national speaking schedule.
Current Mayor John Cook is term-limited and a large field of candidates are vying to replace him Among the eight declared candidates are current City Representative Steven Ortega, local businessmen Oscar Leeser and Robert Cormell, and substitute teacher Jorge Artalejo. Even in such a crowd, Cormell and Ortega, by virtue of their early fundraising prowess, are beginning to separate themselves from the pack.
After handily winning her election to a first-term as Mayor of Fort Worth, Republican Betsy Price is running unopposed in her re-election campaign.
Aboubacar "Asn" Ndiaye was a Field Organizer on the Harris County Democratic Party's 2012 Coordinated Campaign. Follow him at twitter.com/thehardask
"One of the things I'm going to be tackling is this issue of preparing our workforce better; linking up education with the needs of our employers so that no employer ever has to wonder whether they can find the talent, the skills that they need in the workforce here in San Antonio," he said Tuesday after filing for office.
Castro spearheaded an ambitious effort to provide Pre-K to disadvantaged San Antonio children and passed a ballot measure last November to raise funds to do so. He clearly sees eye-to-eye with President Barack Obama on the need to invest in our future through providing strong educational access for all.
Castro was first elected in 2007, and Castro won re-election in 2009 with 83% of the vote. No serious challengers are expected.
Fresh off his Pre-K 4 SA win, we learn today that rising star Julian Castro is writing an autobiography that will be on bookshelves by the 2014 midterm elections.
Castro has teamed with the New York-based Little, Brown and Co. publisher. "We think Julián has a very universal story, filled with drama, struggle and achievement and it will appeal to a wide range of readers across the country," Little, Brown spokeswoman Nicole Dewey said in an email to Josh Baugh of the San Antonio Express News. "We have plans for a major national marketing and publicity campaign."
Brown and Co. has already given Castro an advance for the book, but Castro won't discuss any more details. Smart - Castro is doing a lot of very good work in San Antonio and he probably doesn't want any national distractions interfering with his work.
I'm looking forward to this book, and I don't often read political autobiographies because of their risk for self-aggrandizement. Castro gave an awesome speech at the DNC, and then he went home and won a campaign for a slightly higher tax that will give 30,000 San Antonio kids pre-K and change their lives entirely.
Burnt Orange Report urges San Antonio voters to support the Pre-K 4 SA measure, to close educational achievement gaps and improve education for all in San Antonio.
As the Legislature slashes and burns public education to the ground, the task of educating the next generation of Texans -- all of them -- increasingly falls to local governments. We applaud Mayor Julian Castro for his commitment to picking up the slack and supporting critical Pre-K programs that prepare our children to excel in school.
The proposal will create access to early childhood education in San Antonio, and help thousands of local children who lack access to full-day Pre-K programs. The measure will also support professional development for teachers across the district, thus raising the quality of education across the city. The Pre-K 4 SA program will close achievement gaps between some of the most disadvantaged children in San Antonio, and result in greater educational attainment across the community.
The measure has broad support from across the community, and represents only a modest sales tax increase. San Antonio's public schools are some of the worst ranked among major urban areas. The Legislature clearly will not fund access to competitive, 21st century public education for all Texans. This is a critical investment in the future of San Antonio and future of Texas, and merits support from San Antonio voters.
We enthusiastically endorse the Pre-K 4 SA program and urge San Antonio voters to vote for it.
Early Voting: Monday October 22 - Friday November 2 --- Election Day: Tuesday, November 6
Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.
Join your local Democrats in the San Antonio and Austin area TONIGHT to witness history as Mayor Julian Castro becomes the first Latino to give a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention!
In Austin? Join the Travis County Coordinated Campaign to phonebank local Democrats and watch the keynote address to the Democratic National Convention given by the Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro. No tickets are needed for this event! Please join us for a fun filled evening! Join us from 7-9pm at 2406 Manor Road.
In San Antonio? Join Democrats for the grand opening of the Westside Democratic Headquarters at 1313 Guadalupe Street, Suite 200 in San Antonio and watch the speech! Refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to 210.471.1185.
Need a warm up? Here's the video Mayor Castro recorded before heading off to Charlotte:
San Antonio, one of Texas' fastest growing cities and the hometown of House Speaker Joe Straus, may approve a tax increase for Pre-K that could signal to Austin that more cuts to education will not be tolerated. In June, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro announced he would propose a 1/8 cent sales tax to pay for full-day Pre-K for low income students. The idea received Republican criticism but last week passed City Council unanimously sending it to the ballot for voter approval in November. A major referendum on the ballot and the keynote speech at Obama's nomination add up to a big year for the young mayor being groomed as a future statewide candidate. He said of his plan, "I'm not going to wait for Washington or Austin to make the right investments for our young people…And in the meantime, we lose our economy.” He did admit, "nobody likes a tax [increase]", but could there be a better way to challenge state leaders than to fulfill the job they've abdicated while touting a pro-economic message?
The tax will raise an estimated $29 million dollars at about $7.81 per household annually and serve roughly 4,500 4 year olds. At least two San Antonio Republicans State Rep. Lyle Larson and Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolfe disagree with the Mayor's proposal. Rep. Larson argued, “The city has no business creating a ‘department of education.'" That's a revealing statement from someone who's Party platform includes demolishing the federal Department of Education and who's record includes voting to cut $5 billion in state funds for public education - $200 million of which funded Texas' full-day Pre-K program. For his part Commissioner Wolfe believes it's, "parental failure to take advantage of existing programs" and ultimately, "It is a parent's responsibility.” It may be a parent's job to provide for their children but the state is constitutionally required to provide an "efficient" public school system where, as the state Supreme Court ruled, efficient does not equate to "cheap".