How’s He Doing? Grade Mayor Castro as He Aims for Third Term

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Robert RivardBefore departing for a 10-day economic development trip to India last week, Mayor Julián Castro announced plans via youtube to seek  a third term of office as mayor of San Antonio.

Given his strong standing, it’s doubtful he’ll face a serious challenger. If he wins a third term, he will be the first San Antonio mayor to serve more than two consecutive terms since former Mayor Henry Cisneros held office from 1981-89.


If Castro’s re-election is not in doubt, what about his legacy after two terms? What do people who voted him into office think of his performance as mayor so far? The Rivard Report invites readers to offer their own assessments of the Castro administration as it nears the midpoint of what could be an eight-year run.

Post your comment at the end of this article, or on the Rivard Report Facebook page. We’ll review the postings and report back on interesting or important threads that emerge.

We especially want to hear where you think Castro has succeeded, fallen short, or failed. We also want you to list suggested priorities for Castro’s third term agenda.

Preparing to launch Pre-K 4 SA undoubtedly will feature prominently in a third term, as will Castro’s goal of improving education outcomes from early childhood attendance to college graduation rates. Job creation and public safety probably figure as leading measures in any mayoral term, and Castro rides a good wave on both fronts into a third campaign.

Mayor Castro stretches to shake hands

Mayor Julián Castro stretches to shake hands as he makes his way through the crowd at La Fonda on election night, just before the Pre-K 4 SA initiative passed on Nov 6, 2012. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

His call to make this the “Decade of Downtown” will continue to attract strong interest, including the City’s plans to redevelop Hemisfair and efforts, so far unsuccessful, to attract a grocery store operator to the center city. Transportation, specifically the streetcar project, falls under VIA, but how the initiative fares as planning picks up momentum will inevitably reflect for better or worse on both city and county government.

City Manager Sheryl Sculley

City Manager Sheryl Sculley

Castro’s performance leading a new City Council and working with City Manager Sheryl Sculley also will be monitored closely by City Hall watchers. Sculley has held that office since 2005 and is considered key to the city’s fiscal performance and efficient operations. She is highly regarded by the business and leadership community but has taken heat in the media for what critics charge were lax ethical standards in the handling of the convention center expansion contract by former Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni. Digiovanni was negotiating to leave public office to take the helm of the Centro Partnership, a new downtown economic initiative. Were Sculley to grow frustrated enough to leave as city manager it would be hard if not impossible for Castro to recruit someone of equal talent.

Some also wonder if Castro’s national profile will add up to fewer days in San Antonio, and more days out of town, participating in politics at the national level.  Many of us want it both ways: a mayor whose national profile helps elevate the city’s reputation as a good place to live and work as well as a hands-on mayor who is on the job and leading the city forward.

Mayor Henry Cisneros

Former Mayor Henry Cisneros

The longer he holds office, Castro will increasingly be compared to his mentor, Cisneros, who was the first modern mayor to attract national attention to himself and the city. Much of the foundation for modern-day San Antonio was laid during Cisneros’ years in office. Castros is no less ambitious and has far more to work with now.

San Antonians who were not old enough to vote before 1990 or who have moved here from somewhere else are unaccustomed to mayors serving more than two, two-year terms.

Angry voters here approved some of the country’s toughest term limits in 1991, limiting the mayor and council members to two, two-year terms. Many in the community believed the restrictions went too far in ushering out against long-serving incumbents and forcing their replacements to leave office before they learned how to get things done. Six mayors came and went under the new rules.

Those limits were relaxed by voters in 2008, largely due to the performance in office and popularity of then-Mayor Phil Hardberger, the last mayor to serve under the 1991 limits. Under the new rules put in place, the mayor and council members can serve four, two-year terms. Conceivably, a council member could hold office for eight years and, if elected mayor, hold that office for another eight years.

Castro’s national profile has risen sharply thanks to his keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and his work as one of the national co-chairmen of President Obama’s re-election campaign.

That sparked speculation that Castro would leave office as mayor and join Obama’s second-term Cabinet, but he repeatedly said he was not interested in going to Washington and hoped to remain in office as mayor through 2017. This would give him eight years to implement his SA2020 initiative and its 11 ambitious goals.

With Castro’s announcement to seek a third term, he is living up to that commitment. You can click on the SA2020 link to review those 100 “vision areas” and decide yourself whether Castro and San Antonio are on track to your satisfaction.

Don’t forget: Post a comment.

Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.

2 thoughts on “How’s He Doing? Grade Mayor Castro as He Aims for Third Term

  1. Another acolyte to the ideologues of this world.

    lets see:

    A) downtown, over 1/3 of space is available. Another major law firm recently left downtown. Not end all, but another sign of what is truly happening to downtown. Geekdom exec commented that he will go to Austin if things to not improve.

    B) The Mayor’s enthrallment with SAWS water restrictions marches on, with new or changed restrictions every few months. Latest rules mark start of new revenues from increased enforcement. joke. 3rd increase in a year by some estimates. For what? more sewage cleanup. de-salination. If you believe that, I have a bridge.

    C) What has he really changed. Really nothing when you get to the point.

    D) pre-K education program. Based on flawed thin-tank data. In addition, cost per child is enough for college. Why not give them a free college or trade school instead. This will cost millions and do absolutely zero for pushing a few thousand kids to graduate high-school and go to college. Unbelievable waste for the money used to outcome it will produce.

    E) Hemis-laiz’e faire park will be another outdoor despot for the homeless – a la in front of city hall. dumb plan to the tilt.

    F) There is plenty more, but I leave you to ponder these. I am sure they have most of you all worked up already, especially knowing the crowd that haunts this website… Truth hurts. Denial is the first stage. Just remember that when you go to respond how wrong I am. It’s nuttin but da facts homey!

    Finally, he’ll be re-elected and adored. Why? Because people are in love with some idealistic world he has everyone believe he represents. My parents DID ask their family for money to start a business. And we were poor. They scraped together a few thousand. He should take his arrogant comments and shove them you know where. Disgusting. All for votes too. Even more disgusting. Go work in a business so at least you know what you talk of…ridiculous.

    Another divisive ideologue politician. Shocker these days. Oh and to boot, no private sector experience. But he’ll tell you and make policy about how it all runs and works. What a screwed up world sometimes.

    He’s done nothing special. Nothing any other mayor would not have done. In fact, he’ll spend millions more for little in the way of results, also!! Oh, but he’ll take FULL credit for the employment numbers of San Antonio…Oh wait, he already has. HA. you can’t make up this bulls***. What is the old saying, something like – reality is no substitute for the best fictional book.

  2. FYI: We all know Scully runs the show and the city.

    Let’s be real about it. She is the true star in all this. A real star. Usually the case in many great cities. The City Manager is the real start while the Mayor bumbles around as figurehead.

    Really impressed by her..I must say…dynamite. San Antonio is lucky to have such a qualified, intellgient, and experienced City Manager.

    my two cents.

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