Obama to Select San Antonio Mayor for HUD Top Job in Reshuffle

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will be nominated to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, part of an administration reshuffling that would bring a Democratic up-and-comer to President Barack Obama’s cabinet, according to three people familiar with the decision.

Castro, 39, is Obama’s choice to take the position held by Shaun Donovan, HUD secretary since the president’s first week in office, the people said yesterday. Donovan, 48, will be named to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, they said. The announcements are likely to come within a few days, one of the persons said.

The OMB position is being vacated by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whom the president nominated last month to replace Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary. Burwell’s Senate confirmation is pending.

Eric Schultz, White House deputy press secretary, declined yesterday to comment on the prospective changes.

The White House approached Castro previously about a cabinet position, secretary of transportation. The mayor said at the time he wasn’t interested in that opening, said one of the persons familiar with the personnel maneuverings.

Anthony Foxx, the former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, became transportation secretary last July, succeeding Ray LaHood, who had held the job throughout Obama’s first term.

Castro, the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, is in his third term as San Antonio’s mayor. His nomination would come as Congress is being prodded by Obama to move ahead on changes to immigration policy that would include a path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants.

Hispanic Voters

Democrats are working to maintain their advantage among Hispanic voters in this November’s congressional elections later this year. Castro is of Mexican descent.

Amid criticism from immigration advocates about deportations under Obama, the president’s popularity has declined among Hispanics over the past year. Obama’s job approval among that demographic group for the week that ended May 11 was 57 percent, down 18 percentage points from a year earlier, according to the Gallup Poll. Obama’s job approval among all poll respondents was 44 percent, down four percentage points from a year earlier.

In his speech at his party’s convention, Castro called education crucial for building better cities.

“We’re investing in our young minds today to be competitive in the global economy tomorrow. And it’s paying off,” he said, referring to efforts in San Antonio.

“And we’re only getting started,” he said. “Opportunity today, prosperity tomorrow.”

Twin Brother

Castro, whose twin brother Joaquin Castro serves in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from Texas, has been a vocal supporter of revising immigration policy. Speaking to Bloomberg Television last June, he said a change of U.S. laws would be an urban stimulus as undocumented residents become normal participants in local economies.

“You’re going to have safer communities, and also spending in the community that is going to boost local economies and the national economy as well,” he said.

Castro first won office in 2001, elected to the San Antonio City Council. At the time he was the youngest council member in the city’s history, surpassing Henry Cisneros, who later was elected mayor of San Antonio.

Cisneros, 66, also later became HUD secretary, serving under Democratic President Bill Clinton before resigning during a scandal involving payments to a mistress that weren’t properly reported to the FBI.

Donovan led HUD through the steep decline in home prices that accompanied the financial crisis that Obama inherited upon taking office in January 2009.

Earlier this year Donovan urged Congress to support a Senate effort to remake the nation’s housing finance system by winding down U.S.-supervised Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replacing them with a government reinsurer of mortgage bonds.

“It may well be the only chance we have this decade,” he said last month.

Donovan headed the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development prior to becoming HUD secretary.

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