By Roberto Acosta
March 9, 2020
FLINT, MI – Bernie Sanders was like a returning rock star Saturday night during a town hall on the campus of Mott Community College.
“It’s great to be back here in Flint,” the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate told the crowd of roughly 1,200 supporters waving “Bernie” signs handed out as they entered the main doors at Ballenger Fieldhouse on the campus of Mott Community College.
Sanders was in Flint for a town hall meeting on racial and economic justice that included panel speakers Jennifer Epps Addison, co-director of CPD Action, Victoria Dooley, former U.S. Sen. Don Riegle, Branden Snyder, director of Detroit Action, author Cornel West, and Nayyirah Shariff, director of Flint Rising.
Shariff asked Sanders how his administration could bring about a full recovery for Flint, including long-term health care, education resources, and repeal of the emergency manager law.
“We are tired of dragging our poisoned bodies to (Washington) D.C., to Lansing, and all over the country because we have multiple communities across the country who are now dealing with the same thing we’ve been dealing with since 2014,” she said, adding residents have seen Democratic candidates come through and are tired of broken promises and just another campaign stop.
Sanders countered with his call for Medicare for all, as well as sharing a story of a private visit with Flint families during a visit to the city in 2016, during his first presidential run.
“My wife, she had to leave the room because she was in tears, she couldn’t deal with it,” he said of the sit-down. “It was one of the most painful meetings that I have ever been to in my life. The damage that was done to these kids. To hear parents talking about what happened to their own kids was just terribly traumatic.”
Sanders noted he’s not running on a platform with a promise to solve all problems, but he argued, “We have to transform this country and fundamentally reorient our priorities” that includes the help of all people across the country.
Former U.S. Sen Don Riegle, who represented Flint for 28 years — 10 in the House and 18 in the Senate – called it “a special community.”
“How we’re really one family,” he said, while speaking on the Sit-Down Strike and election of Floyd McCree as the first African-American mayor of a major U.S. city in 1966. “This community more than any other you’ll probably visit in this whole country.”
Sanders asked for voters’ support on Tuesday, admitting he’ll need big numbers to win against Joe Biden and in a potential race against President Donald Trump.
“In order to win here in Michigan against Trump, in order to defeat Trump nationally, we are going to have the highest voter turnout in the history of this country,” he said.
Biden is due to hold rallies Monday, March 9 in Grand Rapids and Detroit.
A total of 125 delegates are up for grabs during Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Michigan.