WASHINGTON, DC—President Obama nominated San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Castro will replace HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who is becoming the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
One reason the President selected Castro was his leadership in implementing housing and economic development programs in San Antonio over the last five years, President Obama said on Friday when he made the announcement. “We look forward to Mayor Castro bringing his practical, on-the-ground success to scale at the federal level at HUD,” President Obama said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Castro will be one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in the federal government.
The Star-Telegram, a Texas newspaper that has followed Castro’s political career makes no bones about the fact that the mayor was tapped to lead HUD because of his “overall star-power” and “appeal to a major part of the Democratic base.”
It also noted Castro’s influence in revitalizing San Antonio’s urban core “by attracting inner-city investment and creating more affordable housing units there.”
Castro also created SA2020, an initiative for San Antonio that focuses on 11 areas, including arts and culture, education and downtown development, the Washington Post pointed out. The 10-year plan was launched in 2010 and has become a nonprofit.
Perhaps the most telling indication that he has passion for HUD’s mission is Time magazine’s report that Castro was previously offered the more high-profile position of Secretary of Transportation, which he rejected. As Time put it, “Passing on Transportation Secretary for a more powerful cabinet position like, say, Treasury or Attorney General might make sense. But why on earth would he accept HUD, perhaps the most inglorious minefield of all cabinet jobs?”
According to Hilary Rosen, a managing director of SKDKnickerbocker, a Washington consulting firm, it is because he wants to focus on neighborhoods and community redevelopment on a bigger scale. “Sometimes taking these cabinet jobs just comes down to having a passion for the issues,” she told Time.