First Latino to serve as US Mayor of a major US City in the 20th century – Henry Cisneros, (born June 11, 1947, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.), American politician who, as mayor of San Antonio (1981–89), was the first Latino to serve as mayor of a major U.S. city in the 20th century and who served as secretary of housing and urban development (1993–97) under U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton.
Cisneros graduated from Texas A&M University in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He worked briefly as an analyst for the San Antonio branch of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Model Cities program prior to continuing his education at Texas A&M, from which he received a master’s degree in urban and regional planning in 1970. He was selected for the White House Fellows program in 1971 and then returned to his education, receiving a master’s degree from Harvard University in 1973 and a Ph.D. from George Washington University in 1975, both in public administration.
Less than a year after returning to San Antonio, Cisneros was elected to the city council in 1975, becoming the youngest councilman in San Antonio’s history. He had joined the public administration faculty of the city’s branch of the University of Texas in 1974. In 1981 Cisneros became the first Mexican American to be elected mayor of San Antonio since 1842. Noted for his success at calming tensions between Anglos and Hispanics in that city, he was reelected three times, but he declined to run for reelection in 1989.
In 1993 Cisneros was appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by President Bill Clinton. As HUD secretary Cisneros worked hard to reverse decades of Federal housing policy that promoted racism and to make the department’s programs more efficient. In 1997 Cisneros was indicted on charges of having lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation during his background check before attaining the HUD office. An independent investigation was conducted, and eventually Cisneros pleaded guilty in 1999 and paid a fine. Clinton issued him an executive pardon two years later.
From 1997 to 2000 Cisneros served as president and CEO of Univision, a Spanish-language television network headquartered in Los Angeles. He moved back to San Antonio in 2000, and he spent the next decade on the boards of directors at construction and mortgage firms, including KB Home and Countrywide Financial.
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