The Bern spread to the drought-hit state of California.
A rally in support of underdog Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) was held at the Weber Point Events Center next to the waterfront in downtown Stockton on May 10.
“Seven-thousand reasons why we are standing here today and why we’re going to win California on June 7,” said speaker Michael Ceraso, California state director for Bernie Sanders.
PHOTOS BY ZACHARIAH MERCES-SPINDLER
Members of the crowd, many who showed up as early as 11 p.m. Monday, wanted to witness Sanders speak during the final month of his presidential primary campaign.
Absentee voting began Monday in the state. The primary is June 7.
“It looks to me like Stockton is ready for a political revolution,” said Sanders at the beginning of his 45-minute speech.
The event is historic, as presidential candidates rarely visit Stockton. The last time anything came close was when former President Bill Clinton campaigned for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 run against now President Barack Obama.
Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva was in attendance.
“I’m very excited. Feels like Stockton is once again an All American City. We’re on the map. Stockton is a microcosm to the rest of the country. That’s why we’ve become a leader in the central valley. One of the most diverse [cities] in the country and makes a good sample for the rest of the country,” said Silva. “Stockton’s been chewed up and spit out. Three and half year rebound from bankruptcy. Housing is bouncing back. [Stockton is] an All American City once again, but how does the story end?”
Current city councilman and mayoral candidate Michael Tubbs was also at the event introducing the senator from Vermont.
“Whether it’s bouncing back from bankruptcy, in Stockton we know how to stand up, dig our heels and even give the ‘Stockton Slap’ if we have to,” Tubbs said.
Tubbs also used this platform to propel his campaign for mayor.
“As a son of Stockton I know first hand how it seems that regular working people are working harder and harder only to fall further and further behind,” he said. “And it’s theses issues that form the very crux of my campaign and it’s theses issues that drove me to come back to Stockton first to work as a city council member and now as a candidate for mayor. Because we have to fight to create a nation and a community that works for everyone. And this is why it is my honor to welcome senator Sanders to Stockton today. As the issues he has fought his whole time in public service: as a mayor, as a congress person, as a senator and now as a candidate for the democratic nominee for U.S. president.”
Tubbs also addressed Sanders’ work toward free college tuition.
“I know the importance of higher education as a path way to opportunity, and as a Pell Grant recipient I know how important it is to make sure that college is in fact affordable,” said Tubbs.
Marshal Romo, a Delta College student, said he appreciates Sanders’ views.
“I support Bernie Sanders because I like his idea on free college tuition, I think everyone deserves to go to college especially when people come from a low-income family and they want to give back, get a good career and stuff,” said Romo. “I really like that. I also like his views on the billionaires. He wants billionaires to get no tax breaks. When you got all these getting like no tax breaks, I think that’s ridiculous.”
Sanders took the stage to a frenzied crowd more reminiscent of Coachella than a political rally. Bands performed ahead of his arrival, playing reggae music and modern rock covers.
The presidential candidate’s voice was barely discernible through the screams.
Sanders talked about taking on the establishment, legalization of marijuana, the seriousness of opiate addiction and mental health treatment, among other topics.
“Drug abuse and addiction is a health-related issue, not a criminal issue,” said Sanders.
He also addressed illegal immigration. California is home to more than two million undocumented immigrants, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Sanders spoke of protecting the rights of those workers.
“Many illegal immigrant workers are being exploited,” Sanders said.
Erika Andiola, National Latinx Press Secretary for Sanders, spoke about her struggles dealing with immigration as an undocumented citizen. Andiola said she lost scholarships because of her status. Her mother, at one point, was also on the verge of being deported.
“We need to create a path toward citizenship,” Sanders said.
Sanders is trailing in the pledged delegate count, but still sees a path to nomination.
“We have now won 18 states primaries and caucuses. We believe that we have a very good chance. Can’t predict the future. But we think we have a very good chance to win the majority of the states yet to vote. Right now we are at about forty-five and a half percent of the pledged delegates, the delegates actually elected by the people in the states. We think that if we do well in the remaining states, and if we do very very well in the largest state in this country, California. It’s an uphill struggle, we have a chance to end up with a majority of the pledged delegates. And if we do that i think you are looking at the Democratic nominee for president,” said Sanders during the closing minutes of his speech.