The City of San Antonio formally says farewell to Mayor Julian Castro tonight, in a gathering called 'Thanks Julian,' at the Convention Center which is sponsored by the city's chambers of commerce, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Castro will formally step down as mayor on Tuesday, to take his new position as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Obama's cabinet.
David Crockett, a local political analyst at Trinity University, says on balance, Castro's legacy will be one of solid leadership. He says the mayor pushed through his major priority, the Pre-K for SA program, and saw it implemented. He also held down property taxes.
"He has been someone who works very well with the business sector," Crockett said. "Where he has been somewhat more left of center has been on the social issues."
He said those left leaning social issues, including support for gay marriage and his strong backing of the gay and lesbian non discrimination law, which was passed by a divided City Council last summer, are essentially the 'price of admission' to leadership in today's increasingly liberal and socially active national Democratic Party.
Crockett praised the mayor for downtown initiatives, and for presiding over a boom in the city's tech industries.
Even though Castro is leaving San Antonio next week, he says the 39 year old's political future will remain in San Antonio and in Texas. He pointed out that the cabinet job has a shelf life of two years, and after that, if Castro is not a part of a successful Democratic ticker in 2016, his strongest political options will be in Texas.
"The most natural launch point for him nationally, other than being a running mate, would be for him to win national office either as a U.S. Senator from Texas or a Governor from Texas," he said.
Currently, the outlook is bleak for Democrats running statewide campaigns, especially for Democrats who have espoused the 'liberal' social positions that Crockett pointed out. But Crockett says Castro will still be a viable political candidate in the 2040s, and the current situation will not last.
"He has got conceivable thirty years ahead of him in terms of a political life, and the real question is, will he be part of the process of transforming Texas from a staunch red state to a battleground state, a purple state," he said.
Crockett said while Castro has numerous accomplishments to his credit in San Antonio, due to the weak nature of the mayor's office, it is difficult to talk about a 'Castro era' any more than we could talk about a 'Hardberger era.'
"To be honest, the success of the Spurs has more to do with raising the profile of San Antonio than any mayor does," he said. "If he succeeds in getting to higher national office, that will raise the profile of San Antonio."