Volunteers open campaign office for Bernie Sanders

Volunteers open campaign office for Bernie Sanders
January 14
00:00 2016
Photo By Todd Luck
Volunteers Glenda Wharton, Brian Coletta, Heather Jones, Sam Little and Rebekah Ricardo get  set up for last week’s phone bank. Also pictured in the background is Angela Savitri.

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

Volunteers supporting the Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign opened up a local office last week on Waughtown Street.

Early last week a “barnstorming” event was held that drew a standing room only crowd of more than 130 people to the office at 95 Waughtown Street. Opened with no campaign money, the office is paid for and manned by local volunteers. Sanders, a 74-year-old Vermont senator, has become known for drawing large crowds at his events and for the enthusiasm of his supporters. He’s raised more money than any presidential candidate except Hillary Clinton, who he’s competing against for the Democratic nomination.

On Friday, Jan. 8, the office held its first phone bank, as volunteers called primary states like Iowa and South Carolina trying to mobilize voters for Sanders. The smell of fresh paint hung in the air as volunteers had just finished cleaning and painting the walls. Space heaters were the only source of warmth since the heating system wasn’t working yet. Volunteers brought in their own laptops or mobile devices and phones to call voters using the campaign’s online tools.

“It’s very much a grassroots effort and that means that supporters are donating their time, money and supplies,” said volunteer Rebekah Ricardo. “We’re willing to do that because of how much we want Bernie to win and how strongly we feel about the good he can do for this country.”

Sam Little was among the volunteers at the phone bank. The 27-year-old said Sanders support of things like free college tuition make him appealing to young people. She said that she feels that Sanders support will grow among African-Americans like her. She pointed out that Sanders is not only a longtime civil rights activist but has also been consistently active on the issue of economic inequality, which was among the major causes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I think he’s not as well known to minorities as Hillary Clinton, but if they learn who he is and what his policies are, they’ll see that he’s more beneficial to them,” she said.

Sanders was arrested in 1962 while protesting segregation at the University of Chicago and participated in the 1963 March on Washington. He’s spoken out against mass incarceration and the death penalty his entire career. In 1988, he endorsed civil rights leader Jesse Jackson for president.

Larry Little, a Winston-Salem State University professor and longtime local activist, stopped by to see the office during the phone bank. He is a longtime supporter of Sanders, because of the senator’s devotion to things like civil rights and economic justice. He too said Clinton’s dominance among black voters comes from familiarity. Those who don’t follow politics closely wouldn’t know about Sanders’ history, but he said but he’ll be trying to change that locally, by stirring up support in the black community for Sanders.

“There are a lot of us who follow these things carefully, we just have to take his message out there,” said Larry Little, who is Sam Little’s father.

Volunteer Angela Savitri, who switched her party affiliation from unaffiliated to Democrat so she could vote for Sanders in the primary, also said she had many reasons to like Sanders, including his support for getting big money out of politics, paid parental leave, economic parity and environmental issues.

“He is the only candidate in my lifetime who cares more about humanitarian values than solely economic ones,” said Savitri, who is 38.

While these positions may be shared by Sanders’ primary opponents like Clinton, it’s Sanders consistency throughout his career on those issues that makes him unique, said Savitiri. He also doesn’t have an affiliated Super PAC, unlike Clinton and most presidential candidates, which she believes will make him less beholden to big money special interests.

Sanders is supported by a Super PAC that’s not affiliated with his campaign, called National Nurses United for Patient Protection. Unlike other Super PACs, it is funded by union dues, not contributions from wealthy donors. Sanders has repeatedly said he will not raise money for any Super PAC.


About Author

Todd Luck

Todd Luck

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors