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Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julián Castro, has launched a new political action committee (PAC). People First Future PAC is focused on electing progressive candidates committed to prioritizing the needs of people, particularly those from marginalized communities, rather than special interests, which was a major tenet of Castro’s presidential campaign and platform.

“While hardworking families struggle to pay rent, get good health care, or send their kids to decent schools, well-connected and deep-pocketed special interests get in their way,” said Castro in an email statement. “I’m proud to launch People First Future to elect bold leaders across the country who will fight for an America where everyone counts and where people⁠—not special interests⁠—are put first in our politics.”

During a recent interview with The New York Times’ Jennifer Medina and Lisa Lerer, Castro said he wanted to focus on “lifting up great young progressives out there who are running at the local, state and federal level.” He reflected on an earlier venture he started before running for president called Opportunity First, a PAC focused on supporting young progressive candidates. Talking with Medina, Castro said he wanted to re-engage in that work. “I want to make sure that we’re lifting up people who are going to carry on the focus on the most vulnerable communities and ensuring prosperity for everybody in this country.”

The inaugural endorsement class includes 12 progressive candidates running for Congress, with a strong focus on supporting candidates in Castro’s home state of Texas. People First Future will be led by Castro’s former presidential campaign national political director Natalie Montelongo, who will serve as executive director, and Sawyer Hackett, Castro’s former presidential campaign communications director, coming onboard as senior advisor.

In addition to launching People First Future PAC, Castro has also joined Voto Latino as a senior advisor in an effort to help mobilize Latinx voters ahead of the upcoming election.

During this presidential election cycle, Castro has been one of the most consistent voices raising concerns on behalf of all communities, prominently discussing and developing policy on issues of housing, homelessness, and disability. Despite not making the debate stage during the Atlanta presidential primary debate, Castro nevertheless traveled to the city and, with the nonprofit organization Community Movement Builders, opted to take a walking tour of a South Atlanta community fighting gentrification.

Reflecting on the intersecting traumas impacting Black and brown communities, Castro was also the first candidate to raise police violence as a key issue during the 2020 presidential primary. Castro linked police violence to the larger issue of gun violence when lifting up the name of Atatiana Jefferson during an October 2019 debate, after Jefferson was killed by a Fort Worth police officer during a wellness check.

“Secretary Castro’s campaign put a spotlight on the issue[s] that vulnerable communities face everyday,” said Montelongo. “With the impact of COVID-19, it’s never been more important to elect candidates who are doing the same. That’s what People First Future is all about.”

Anoa Changa

Anoa Changa is a journalist and organizer focused on innovating electoral justice coverage. Follow her on Twitter at @thewaywithanoa.