San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro dove into several main themes during his annual United State of the City address downtown. Among them were health care, education, downtown revitalization and the arts.
The address was reminiscent of President Obama's State of the Union speech when Castro introduced Tracy Mayon and her four-year-old daughter, Haylee, who is a Pre-K 4 SA student this year.
The mayor said afterward in a small gathering of press that early childhood education is the issue above all others.
On the podium in front of over 1,000 people in attendance, Castro bragged about Pre-K 4 SA as a way to transform San Antonio in the long term.
Haylee said one of her favorite parts of the day at her North Side education center is "doing small groups." Her mom, Tracy, admitted she wasn't even fully convinced that Pre-K 4 SA would work. But she said she voted in favor of the measure when it went before voters in November 2012.
"It was new, and you know how often times people will sell us a dream, they will sell us a story," she said. "I've just been very, very shocked to the point that I'm speechless because I just knew this program was not going to work."
Castro announced a new challenge to his city.
"Put the cheesecake aside. Put the chocolate cake aside," he said.
As the city continues to improve its basic health, said Castro, the issue that people became most passionate about was getting more active and eating better. The Mayor's Fitness Council will host FitCitySa.com's Million Pound Challenge with a goal of San Antonio to collectively lose one million pounds.
"I pledge today to do my part to help this city be more active, and I challenge you to help San Antonio to be a healthy community as well," Castro said.
Castro placed emphasis on the arts, downtown redevelopment, challenges facing the East Side, and fast internet speed.
"Mark my words, San Antonio will become a Google Fiber city," Castro proclaimed, referring to the recent announcement that the city is a competitor to gain the Google Fiber network.
Being a "city on the rise," Castro praised the city for its real estate market going up while teen pregnancy rates are going down.
The mayor didn't shy away from a major discussion happening at City Hall right now on public safety employee healthcare costs and retirement benefits. He said the city's firefighters and police officers deserve excellent benefits. He said it's also clear that health care costs are growing fast.
Castro said he's confident of a resolution at the collective bargaining table later this year.