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Story Pick: And the mayor before him

cisneros3.jpg

Henry Cisneros and Hillary Clinton in December 1996. Photo by Dudley M. Brooks/The Washington Post

Before political ambition took him high up Washington’s ladder and a former mistress knocked him down it, Henry Cisneros was a man who sent my family Christmas cards. My mother worked in Cisnero’s office when he was mayor of San Antonio and so each year we’d get a card showing his family, smiling, wishing my family (whom I can’t remember ever posing for a family photo) blessings and tidings.

I was only a kid at the time but I remember how those cards made me feel, if only slightly, close to greatness, how they showed me that even if southside San Antonio didn’t look like much, it was worth a stamp to someone important.

I hadn’t thought of those cards for decades – Cisneros completed his last term as mayor in 1987 and finished his post as HUD secretary in 1997 – until I read The New York Time’s profile of Julián Castro a few months ago. (Sorry for the delay in posting it here).

It begins with the telling scene of the San Antonio mayor seated, literally and metaphorically, at President Obama’s table.

When his turn came to speak – the subject was the creation of green jobs – the president looked at him, midway down the long conference table, and said: “I thought he was on our staff. I thought he was an intern. This guy’s a mayor?” The other participants – world-famous economists, environmentalists and politicians – burst into laughter.
“Of San Antonio, Tex.,” Castro said evenly.
Obama grinned. “I’m messing with you,” he said. “I know who you are.”

The article does a fantastic job of showing us the political machine pushing Castro toward the White House and of delving into the west-side barrio product himself, a man who “pronounces his name 'HOO-lee-un,'" but “doesn’t really speak Spanish.” Just paragraphs into the story, the writer describes the 35-year-old as “cerebral, serious, self-contained and highly efficient. If he were an energy source, he’d be zero-emission.”

By the end of the piece, I was left with only one question: I wonder if he sends Christmas cards?

Enjoy the entire profile here.

By Theresa Vargas  | June 17, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  | Tags:  Henry Cisneros, Julian Castro, Mayor, San Antonio  
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