Who will lead when Castro leaves?

La Prensa (San Antonio, TX), 2014-05-21

In a matter of months, San Antonio may be losing its mayor.

According to multiple reports, President Barack Obama intends to nominate Castro for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development .

"I'm not surprised and I don't think many others are surprised, I think at a certain point a lot of people in the city knew that this day might come, we just didn't know when," District 1 Councilman Diego Bemal told La Prensa.

The mayor took center stage as a national political figure when he became the first Hispanic to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and since then has often been referred to as a democratic rising star.

District 4 City Councilman Rey Saldaña told La Prensa he was excited when he first heard the mayor was being vetted for a cabinet position.

"What it feels like after that is almost like your starting pitcher just got drafted and he's going to the next level and you have to think about the rest of the team," Saldaña said. "I think what it means to a lot of the other council members is that we really have to step up our game and understand where we need to be in the next year in an era that is post-Julián, post- Castro ."

If appointed, Castro will leave his role as mayor before his third term is over and city council will have to select an interim mayor among themselves.

The interim mayor would fill the seat until the mayoral election in May 2015 .

'The council is very talented, a very dedicated group, that shouldn't be an issue," Bemal said.

However, Bernal doesn't think the person who gets the interim position should run for the mayoral election in 2015.

"We need someone who is going to build consensus and be a team leader, but I don't think it's necessarily fair to have someone running for mayor as the appointed mayor," he added. "We need to pick someone who is going to help us get the work done."

Bernal has told La Prensa he is seriously thinking about running for mayor in 2015 and therefore will not seek the temporary appointment to replace Castro .

"Even if it puts me at a disadvantage, I find it to be antidemocratic to try and seek the appointment that I can run for mayor as the city mayor being that I wasn't elected by the people in the first place," Bernal said.

His colleague, Saldaña also sees it as a good policy to implement.

'This is an opportunity for folks to step in the role of mayor, not as a jumping platform," Saldaña said.

If the mayor leaves to Washington D.C. , the council will select the interim mayor in executive session and Castro will not be a part of the process.

By Natalie Bobadilla

natalie@laprensasa. com