The Douglas Democrats in Action held their grand opening on August 25 at the Placita on G Ave.
The guest speaker for the event was Honorable Raul Hector Castro, former Governor and local resident.
Castro was born in Cananea, Mexico, June 12, 1916 and lived there until 1926, which is when he moved to Pirtleville.
He played football, basketball and ran track for Douglas High School in the mid 1930’s and attended Northern Arizona University on a football scholarship graduating in 1939 with a Bachelor’s Degree in education.
“I had to talk to my mother before I accepted the scholarship. My mother told me ‘Go to school, get an education.’ So off to Flagstaff I went,” Castro said.
“A football scholarship in those days you had to wash dishes after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now you get a girlfriend and a car with a scholarship. Times have changed,” he said. “I got a little cocky; I thought once I graduated from college every school in Arizona was going to want to hire me for a teaching job. I was wrong.”
In those days they did not hire Mexican people to be teachers, he said.
He eventually made his way back to Douglas/Agua Prieta where he worked as a Foreign Service Clerk for the Mexican Consul for five years.
“I told my mother that I wanted to become a lawyer, my mother ask how I was going to do that, you don’t have any money, I told her I would figure it out,” he added.
He received a job at the University of Arizona as a Spanish teacher which helped pay for law school.
Castro faced much adversity being told that “Latinos” did not do well in law school.
Taking a step towards overcoming adversity he earned his Juris Doctor Degree and was admitted to the Arizona Bar in 1949. After practicing law in Tucson for two years, he became deputy Pima County attorney.
In 1954 he was elected county attorney and served in that capacity until 1958, when he became a Pima County Superior Court Judge.
Castro earned a reputation as a man of keen mind and deep compassion for people during his six years on the Superior Court bench.
With his national stature growing over the years, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Castro as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador in 1964. That four year service was followed by an ambassadorial assignment to Bolivia.
He returned to Tucson in 1969 to specialize in international law, Castro continued to rise to the top in Arizona Democratic politics.
Seeking state office for the first time in 1974, “I told my friends that I wanted to run for governor, they all said who would vote for you, you were born in Mexico. I won,” Castro said.
He overcame adversity when he surprised the experts by winning his spirited campaign for the governorship. He had reached the top never letting the fact that he was born into a poor family in Mexico bring him down.
In 1977, when he had completed two years as governor, President Jimmy Carter selected him to be ambassador to Argentina.
“People ask why I am a Democrat and I say because we are concerned about senior citizens, concerned about young people and concerned about unemployment,” Castro said. “My whole life growing up in Douglas I always detected a lack in the community to come out to vote, there has always been a lack of willingness to participate in city government, state government, and US government.”
“It is not a question of race or how much education you have, it is being part of the community, don’t just live in your community but, be a part of it,” he said.
According to Susan Bickel event organizer, the event was a huge success, everyone that was invited attended. “We had a very positive and good turnout,” she said.
Other speakers at the event included Mayor Danny Ortega Jr., Cesar Blanco, Bill Roe, Jessica Shultz for Ron Barber, Matt Heinz, Pat Fleming, Rob Leach, Mark Stonebraker, Christine Rhodes, Ann English, Jeff Harris, Joy Mims and Gilbert Zamudio.