Campaign manager

Maya Rupert

COURTESY/Michael Cullen

Maya Rupert has dedicated her career to drafting policy on behalf of organizations like the Center for Reproductive Rights, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. When former Housing Secretary Julian Castro announced his 2020 bid for President, he named Rupert as his campaign manager, making her the third black woman ever to run a national presidential campaign.

Let’s start with some of the specifics of the Castro platform for Nevada. I guess we could start with alleviating the housing crisis.

So, one of the things I think that comes from the fact that Secretary Castro ran the Housing Department is a particular focus on affordability and how that really works. Because we say, “the housing affordability crisis” like it’s one crisis, and depending on where you’re living and how you’re living, it operates very, very differently. You have folks that are in urban areas where the issue is rents are too high because there aren’t enough units, and we need to increase the number of units. But it can’t just be private developers. … They have to be, not just incentivized, but required to actually be building affordable units. … But the second thing is, if you go to a rural community and you say, “All right, we’re going to build a bunch of new units, and that’s how you’re gonna be able to afford houses.” People are gonna look at you like, “There are vacant units.” The issue is that people’s wages aren’t high enough, right? So, it’s like one of the things that Secretary Castro has been really adamant about is that—the kind of people-first agenda is how we talk about it—is that it’s about connecting the dots. It’s not just housing affordability, it’s also jobs. It’s transportation so that folks can actually get to high enough paying jobs so that they can afford rent. It’s a $15 minimum wage.

Education is another huge issue in Nevada, where does Castro stand on improving Nevada’s 50th-in-the nation ranking?

So, basically, what he’s proposing is extending our concept of public education to be preschool through university, right? Because we’re talking about eliminating tuition and making that a universal system. … For this to work as well, we do need to incentivize teachers staying in certain areas. … What he sort of talked about was getting raises to teachers, but actually making it so that money is specifically going to teachers that are going to work in under-served communities. … One of the things that he proposes is a fellowship program that kind of looks like Teach for America, but Teach for America is the kind of thing that, basically, somebody goes in for a couple of years with the idea that they’re probably not going to be a lifelong educator. … It doesn’t create that sort of pipeline of long-term educators that are staying in communities, investing in the communities who teach generations of the same family and the kind of stuff that builds that kind of social capital. And then … student debt relief. … So what he’s actually proposing is to reform the way that system works so that you automatically are entered into a graduated debt repayment program. … Basically, how it works out, until you’re working a job that would pay you the equivalent of $15 an hour, you are not paying loans and not, “those loans are deferred.” Your payment is actually zero because the idea is you go into higher education because you’re making an investment in your future. If that investment isn’t paying off for you, we don’t want that to limit your potential.