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Their Politics Is Local, continued

When Joaquin and Julian Castro '00 entered Harvard Law School in 1997, they knew they would eventually return to San Antonio. During his first year, Julian even began planning for his city council race, which he won last year. Joaquin is now set to face a young Republican for a seat on the state legislature.

For the Castro twins, being away from home (first at Stanford, then at HLS) gave them the perspective they needed to return home to run for office. "I always thought that those people we were sitting with at HLS were not that different from who we were sitting with in high school," Joaquin said. "And I wondered why there weren't more of us at Harvard."

Julian and Joaquin Castro
City Councilman Julian Castro '00 (left) joins twin brother Joaquin '00, a candidate for state legislature, at a San Antonio assembly.

Joaquin and Julian resolved to return home and show young people there that schools such as Harvard and Stanford are options. Both brothers say their education away from home broadened their worldview and showed them that politics matter. But even before that, their mother showed them as well. Rosie Castro ran for city council 30 years ago as a candidate for La Raza Unida Party. Although she did not win a seat, she remained active in the Chicano movement. Julian remembers handing out leaflets for a mayoral candidate when he and Joaquin were just 3 or 4 years old.

"Seeing her being very involved made us think that it was usual or normal to get involved in politics and public policy," Julian said. "It made such involvement more attractive than it might be if we did not grow up in that environment, if we had folks who shunned politics, or regarded it with distaste."

Joaquin recognizes that their interest in politics at such a young age may make him and his brother different. But he says most young people would take an active interest in politics if they only understood its importance.  

"When young people are cynical, it's often because they don't make a connection between the rhetoric of politics and how those policies actually affect their lives," he said. "Whether the Congress allocates money for Pell Grants is a real issue that can affect whether someone goes to college. When people can't afford to send their child to college, that's not a Republican or a Democratic problem. It's just a problem."

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