Government

Castro, in Sioux City, says he'd rejoin Paris Climate Accords

Former HUD secretary says it's the first thing he'd do as president

Julian Castro, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, talks to state Sen. Jackie Smith, D-Sioux City, Friday evening at a home in Sioux City. Castro, one of the Democrats seeking his party’s 2020 presidential nomination, said he would, if elected president, put the United States back into the Paris Climate Accord. (Mason Dockter/Sioux City Journal)
Julian Castro, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, talks to state Sen. Jackie Smith, D-Sioux City, Friday evening at a home in Sioux City. Castro, one of the Democrats seeking his party’s 2020 presidential nomination, said he would, if elected president, put the United States back into the Paris Climate Accord. (Mason Dockter/Sioux City Journal)

SIOUX CITY — In a visit to Sioux City on Friday evening, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro said the first thing he’d do on Jan. 20, 2021, if he’s elected president, is sign an executive order putting the United States back into the Paris Climate Accord.

“We need to address some of the long-term threats to this country, climate change being No. 1,” he said.

Casto, 44, the former mayor of San Antonio, spent Friday touring towns in northwest Iowa, a little more than a month after announcing his candidacy for president.

Castro, who made a point of personally greeting those who crowded into Sioux City attorney Al Sturgeon’s home before he spoke, joked about his twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and the difficulty in telling the identical twins apart.

“He likes to go around telling people that the way to tell us apart, is that I am a minute uglier than he is,” Castro said to laughs from the crowd.

“It’s not true, don’t believe it. In fact, these days, he’s growing out a beard so that people can tell us apart. So, if you see him, you will know that he’s the uglier one.”

Castro pitched his ideas, including affordable health care and college, a $15 minimum wage, support for labor unions, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, addressing climate change, universal pre-K education and immigration reform.

In advocating for free post-secondary education, Castro said the United States will need an educated workforce to keep up with competition from other countries that churn out educated young people.

“Some of the folks in this room will remember that it wasn’t that long ago, that a lot of our state university systems were tuition-free,” he said.

“Go talk to the young at heart, folks that went through college a couple of generations ago, and they’ll tell you it was $50 a semester, or it was free.”

He told the story of his grandmother, who immigrated to the United States in the early 1920s at age 7, an orphan of the Mexican Revolution. In her later years, she suffered diabetes and had a foot amputated.

“Thank God that Medicare was there for her,” Castro said. “I believe that Medicare should be strengthened, and it should be there for everybody.”

In 2014, more than 90 years after his grandmother arrived in Texas, President Barack Obama asked Castro to be his HUD secretary, a position Castro held for two-and-a-half years.

“It’s not every day that a president calls you and asks if you want a job. I had just gone through the drive-through at Panda Express,” Castro said to more laughs from the audience.

Those meeting Castro Friday included J.D. Scholten, who ran an unsuccessful campaign last November against longtime 4th District Congressman Steve King.

Castro related an encounter he had Thursday with King in a Des Moines television station.

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“I had a pleasant conversation for two minutes with him, but it reminded me that he does not represent the people of Iowa,” Castro said.

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