Daily Egyptian

Bernie Sanders supporters hit the streets in Carbondale

Grace Vargas, a freshman from Chicago studying anthropology, writes down information after talking with a student while canvassing for Bernie Sanders on March 6 on the 15th floor of Mae Smith. Members of the campaign went door to door in the building informing students about early voting options and how to register to vote. Vargas became involved with the local campaign early and now assists in organizing other students.

Grace Vargas, a freshman from Chicago studying anthropology, writes down information after talking with a student while canvassing for Bernie Sanders on March 6 on the 15th floor of Mae Smith. Members of the campaign went door to door in the building informing students about early voting options and how to register to vote. Vargas became involved with the local campaign early and now assists in organizing other students. "At our age we are still learning a lot," Vargas said. "People think [politics] is one of those things you can slide into once you get older, but it is important now." (Aidan Osborne | Daily Egyptian)

By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

Bernie Sanders supporters are ramping up efforts in Carbondale as the Illinois primary draws near.

About 120 people attended a rally Sunday at the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign office at 715 S. University Ave. Sanders fans, draped in Bernie garb, manned phones, demonstrated on Illinois Avenue and went door to door to promote their pick for president.

Southern Illinois native Ben Woolard, a 2012 graduate of SIUC, said he organized the event to bolster support in an area that traditionally tends to vote Republican.

Advertisement

“I just felt like, ‘If you’re going to talk the talk, might as well walk the walk,’” Woolard said.

The rally was about “getting people pumped up” and spreading the word to potential voters by phone banking and canvassing as much as possible before March 15, Woolard said.

The Democratic contest uses statewide voting results to determine how many delegates will be awarded to each candidate from each district. There are 156 delegates — about 7 percent of the total needed to win at the Democratic National Convention — up for grabs in Illinois next week.

Armed with a clipboard and a handful of pamphlets, small business owner Retha Daugherty, 65, of Carbondale, said she wanted to spend her Sunday afternoon knocking on doors because she thinks Sanders has the best policies concerning climate change and getting corporate money out of government.

“He’s the only one who cares about the things that I care about,” she said, adding that it is the first time she has been truly enthusiastic for a candidate since Democrat George McGovern in 1972.

“This is our best hope since then, and by God we have to do it this time,” Daugherty said.

Sanders has thus far outperformed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in eight states and secured a total of 459 delegates. Clinton has led Sanders in 11 states — many of them in the South — and has more than half the delegates needed to win the nomination.

But Sanders is still polling especially well among younger voters, and the trend showed at the campaign office.

“Honestly, I’ve always been really, really passionate about politics,” said Camille Stone, a sophomore from Villa Park studying communications who plans to cast her first vote for Sanders as president in the 2016 election.

“This is my first time I’ve really gone out and volunteered, and I’m having a great time doing it.”

Stone has worked alongside other Sanders supporters since the Carbondale campaign office opened last week. She even hit the road with friends Friday to see Sanders in person at the SIU-Edwardsville rally.

“It was so empowering,” she said of the event at SIUE. “It just put a lot of things in perspective and makes me feel really good about all the work I’ve been putting in.”

Bill Lukitsch can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3329.

Advertisement

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Southern Illinois University