Sarah Palin, who also was Governor of Alaska at the time of her nomination for Veep, was excoriated by the mainstream media for her stint as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, with the argument being that her job only involved overseeing a few departments.  It was less than worthless experience, the meme went.

So Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, is being groomed for a potential Veep slot in 2016 through a cabinet appointment, as discussed yesterday, Mayor of San Antonio one heartbeat away from the presidency?

I assumed that the position of Mayor of San Antonio was a serious job, like being the Mayor of many other big cities.  While a spot on a presidential ticket for someone who never was more than a Mayor would be unusual, we have had Mayors like Rudy Guiliani make presidential runs.

I gave Castro the benefit of the doubt on managerial and policy experience.  I was wrong.

It turns out that being Mayor of San Antonio involves no more responsibility than being Mayor of Wasilla, and maybe less.

Byron York reports, in a column focused mostly on Castro’s big payday from a politically connected trial law firm, that being Mayor of San Antonio is nothing more than a superficial public relations position which pays even less than much-abused adjunct professors get paid:

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is widely referred to as a “rising star” in Democratic politics. There’s even talk the Mexican-American Castro could earn the vice-presidential spot on the 2016 Democratic ticket in an effort to further strengthen the party’s bonds with Hispanic voters. And now, it appears Castro’s national profile is about to rise with word that President Obama plans to nominate him to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

If Castro is tapped for the job, his Senate confirmation hearings will likely shine a spotlight both on his role in San Antonio’s government and his way of making a living.

San Antonio, the second-largest city in Texas and seventh-largest in the nation, has a council-manager-weak mayor form of government. The manager runs the city. “The office of the city manager serves as the focal point for the executive leadership and direction of the city organization,” says the website of San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley. The site says Sculley, in office seven years, has “appointed executive leadership, reorganized city departments, streamlined city business systems, improved customer service and elevated the professionalism of city management.” Sculley makes $355,000 a year, one of the highest salaries for a local office in Texas.

The office of mayor carries with it no executive authority. Castro’s website says he has “focused on attracting well-paying jobs in 21st century industries, positioning San Antonio to be a leader in the New Energy Economy.” Castro’s site says he has also “brought a sense of urgency” to urban revitalization, and has created something called SA2020, “a community-wide visioning effort turned nonprofit that has galvanized thousands of San Antonians around a simple, but powerful vision for San Antonio — to create a brainpower community that is the liveliest city in the nation.”

Creating visioning efforts, senses of urgency, and brainpower communities brings the mayor far, far less money than the city manager. “The mayor’s job pays $20 a meeting plus a one-time $2,000 fee, so I basically make $4,000 a year,” Castro told San Antonio television station KENS last year.

In August 2012, Jim Geraghty examined Castro’s weak credentials of accomplishment, Loud Praise for a Mayor of Quiet Record.  Geraghty linked to a San Antonio Current “BUILD YOUR OWN CASTRO CAMPAIGN POSTER” article, in which various political titles could be inserted into an Obama-like campaign poster (see featured image).  Vice President wasn’t one of them, but President, Senator and Governor were among the choices.

A rising Democratic star with almost no actual managerial or policy experience, who looks good on camera, gives good speeches, has a compelling “life story,” and will energize the Democratic base through identity politics.  Nah, that couldn’t work.

Oh, wait.

 
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