Joe Castro moved to Jones Hill four years ago because he was attracted to what he described as the “neighborhood feel” of Dorchester. Today, he’s preparing to take office as the 2018 “Mayor of Dorchester.”
His election is all but official since he is running unopposed. But, Castro said, having no opposition presents drawbacks with regard to fundraising for Dorchester Day activities, especially for the annual parade along the avenue.
“It’s not really about winning,” he explained in an interview with the Reporter. “It’s about raising money to keep this great tradition going. Most people don’t realize how much work and money goes into the parade. Next year hopefully we’ll try to get the word out and encourage more candidates.”
Raised in a small rural town in upstate New York, Castro lived in the South End for about ten years starting in 2004, but he found himself wanting something more. “Growing up in a small town, you relied on your neighbors,” he said. “In the South End, I didn’t even know the person living next to me. But here in Dorchester, there’s just such a great sense of community.”
That sense, along with the neighborhood’s cultural diversity and ample green space, made the area a perfect choice for him. “I fell in love right away,” he said.
Castro has dedicated much of his life to public service, having begun his career as a volunteer firefighter before working as a paramedic and then a Boston MedFlight critical care specialist. He recently transitioned into the real estate business as an agent at Great Spaces Real Estate, LLC., where he has quickly become one of the top brokers in Dorchester.
After attending the Dorchester Day parade for the last several years, Castro saw the honorary mayoral position as an opening of sorts. “I’m always trying to find more ways to get involved in the community,” he said. “This seemed like a good way to give back.”
An active runner and cyclist, Castro enjoys exploring the Harborwalk and the Neponset River Greenway with his dog Riley, whom he has designated as his campaign’s chief morale officer.
Given his job, Castro is well aware of the scale of growth and change impacting the neighborhood at the moment, and he’s familiar with the complexities of the sometimes contentious subject.
“It’s a delicate balance,” he said. “The city’s growing, and without development, people don’t have a place to live. At the same time, you hate to see people displaced.”
He described a deal he worked on with Hope House, a substance abuse treatment and recovery organization, in which he found a three-decker in Dorchester to house their rehabilitated patients.
“That’s the kind of work I hope to do more of,” he said.
Castro emphasized that the parade committee is looking for volunteers to assist with the proceedings. Residents can sign up to volunteer by emailing email@example.com or by calling 888-743-2356.