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Castro continues nontraditional approach to campaigning with visit to Latino flea market

Shannon Miller
Shannon Miller
Election 2020
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Julian Castro walks around at Broadacres Marketplace

Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro sipped on a passion fruit agua fresca, returning high fives and fist bumps while touring the Broadacres Marketplace with General Manager Yovana Alonso and Assemblyman Edgar Flores on Sunday, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary’s eleventh trip to Nevada on the 2020 campaign trail.

Speaking to a crowd of about 600 gathered around the flea market’s main stage, Castro congratulated Alonso and Broadacres for providing a “launching pad” for small business owners, especially for immigrants. Flores, who endorsed the Texan in August, introduced Castro. 

“When I was a little kid, I used to work here. There was a shoe shine and we had a small ceramic booth,” Flores said. “We just passed by where my father and I would set up shop. The shoe shine spot isn’t there anymore, but I showed him the cadaver of where it used to stand. And I was telling [Castro] how it’s evolved.”

Former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, left, Nevada Assemblyman Edgar Flores, center, and general manager Yovana Alonso walk at Broadacres Marketplace in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Open since 1977, Broadacres has become a gathering place for members of Las Vegas’ Latino community, who come to the open-air market for food, entertainment and shopping from predominantly Latino artists and vendors. Today, it boasts more than 1,000 vendor spaces, which are rented on a monthly basis and often end up growing or expanding in some way.

Castro has earned a reputation for campaigning at off the beaten path locations like Broadacres when he comes to the Silver State. He has toured the storm drains beneath Las Vegas, campaigned at pupuserias and swung through rural Nevada, making stops in West Wendover and Elko, as part of his no-holds-barred approach in a state he views as critical in his path to the Democratic presidential nomination.

Still, Castro has been barely registering in the polls, both in Nevada and nationally. Castro didn’t even notch one percentage point in the latest CNN poll of Nevada from late September, and his national average is hovering around 0.8 percentage point support, according to Real Clear Politics.

Alonso pointed out one of the booths that started out selling bounce houses and has developed into a mini amusement park on the market grounds — carousel and bumper cars included. Castro presented a certificate of recognition to Alonso and Broadacres and spoke with shoppers as he perused storefronts, trying samples of kettle corn and other treats he said reminded him of his childhood in San Antonio.

Former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, left, Nevada Assemblyman Edgar Flores, center, and general manager Yovana Alonso walk at Broadacres Marketplace in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Earlier that morning, Castro spoke at a National Organization for Women meeting at Sahara West Library where he congratulated Nevada for being the first state to have a majority-female legislature. He also pitched the crowd of a couple dozen on his plans for education, health care, reproductive rights and equal pay.

“My mom was part of the old Chicano movement — the Mexican American civil rights movement — and was active on women's empowerment issues,” Castro said. “She once had in her office this little cartoon on her wall, a small placard that said, 'God is coming back and boy, is she pissed.'”

After touting plans for a public health care option and lowering costs of insulin and other prescription drugs, Castro drew amens and applause when talking about paying teachers “what they’re worth.” While many of the 18 other Democratic presidential candidates have released education plans, Castro’s specifically calls for a teacher tax credit.

“That would run from $2,000 to $10,000,” Castro said. “And then it would scale up according to the percentage of students in that teacher's school that are on free or reduced-price lunch, so that you challenge teachers to go into the toughest classrooms.”

When NOW member Marge Malatesta asked the presidential candidate what his plan was to help special needs assistants like her, and other medical assistants who she said “don’t make any money,” Castro replied that his plan addressed compensation and working conditions for not only teachers but also assistants and support staff. 

On the subject of reproductive rights, Castro rallied the small audience by saying the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is “facing assault” and promising to appoint judges who “understand the importance of the right to choose [to] get an abortion.” He reiterated his support for repealing the Hyde amendment, which blocks federal funding, including for Medicaid, from being used to pay for abortion services.

“You shouldn’t have to be a person of means to be able to exercise your reproductive freedom,” he said.

The 2020 hopeful promised that he will be back in Nevada “a lot” and is scheduled to speak at the People’s Presidential Forum in Las Vegas on October 26. 

Former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, left, takes a photo with Jose Rodolfo, center, and Christopher Velasquez at Broadacres Marketplace in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)
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