Julian Castro: We’ll See a Latino U.S. President

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s name is often mentioned in the same sentence as phrases like “first Hispanic President,” “future of the Democratic party” and most recently, “potential vice-presidential running mate to Hillary Clinton.”

In 2012 he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention – the speaking slot immortalized by its role in launching the national political career of then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama in 2004.

But who is the person behind the podium, besides the biography and beyond the spotlight?

Recently, I traveled to San Antonio to sit down with Mayor Julian Castro on his own turf. At Ray’s Drive Inn on the Westside, we dove into everything from identity politics to 2016, as well as a burger and tacos.

Relaxed in shirtsleeves and fresh off an inspirational speech to local high school seniors, the mayor was in his element at the intersection of what he represents and who he represents.

With Castro’s much-anticipated personal memoir slated for release in the high-stakes political environment of 2014, it’s not a moment too soon.

Some highlights from the two-part interview:

On his DNC keynote address in 2012:

“The number one thing that I wanted to do was to connect my own family’s story to the American Dream story that so many people from different backgrounds have lived in our nation.…”

On speculation about his political future:

“I think it’s very flattering… But I do think as with anything in life if you work hard and do a good job with what’s in front of you, then you put yourself in a good position for whatever comes next. I don’t know what comes next but I want to work very hard and do a good job as mayor of San Antonio and see what happens.”

On the bi-cultural balancing act:

“That’s always the balance. Being proud of my heritage and who I am and relating to the Latino community and hopefully making people proud, but then also making sure that when I represent people, that I represent everybody.”

On disparities in educational access:

“For a lot of folks in the Latino community and also in low-income communities no matter what their background, the issue is that they don’t have parents or relatives often times who have gone to college and so it’s a new experience.”

On the responsibility of success:

“I hope that all of us that have been blessed with the kinds of opportunities that we have, whether we are in politics or in law or in medicine or business, wherever it is. That we take the time to share with younger people our own story and try to do what we can to inspire them.”