Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton make their mark on Chicago


Santiago Covarrubias

Supporters of Bernie Sanders went to the opening of his campaign office in the South Loop on Feb. 17.

By metro editor

Democratic presidential rivals Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton brought their campaigns to Chicago Feb. 17.

While Sanders did not attend the opening of his campaign office in the South Loop, 600 W. Roosevelt Road, Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” García attended and spoke with volunteers and supporters of Sanders.

“We don’t have money in the bank to send [my grandchildren] to college—my son, his wife, [her] parents don’t have the money saved up so they can go to college—but if Bernie Sanders becomes president, then public colleges and universities will be free,” García said.

García, who ran against Mayor Rahm Emanuel in last year’s mayoral election, told the crowd of volunteers and supporters why he is campaigning for Sanders.

“Taking our country back. It’s about making democracy something that people can really relate to, removing the big money and sharing a vision that says there can be prosperity for everyone who wants to make an honest living—that’s why we’re here supporting Bernie Sanders,” Garcia said. 

Clinton campaigned at the Parkway Ballroom, 4455 S. Martin Luther King Drive, in the Bronzeville area with the mother of Sandra Bland, a Naperville woman who was found hanging in her jail cell after being arrested in Texas.

According to Caroline Bye, a University of Chicago student in charge of the organizing team for student engagement for UChicago Students for Hillary, Clinton touched on many key issues in her speech ranging from gun violence to education.

“She also touched on issues that influence everyday Americans, whether it’s gender inequality, college tuition [or] possibilities for federal funding,” Bye said. “She is the most qualified candidate to run our country and, given the opportunity, she would do a wonderful job.”

Clem Balanoff, state director for Sanders’ campaign, said plans are underway to open more campaign offices in Illinois.

“This is Hillary’s home state, so we have our work cut out for us, but we are going to be reaching out to every voter across the state of Illinois and bringing Bernie’s message to them whether it’s over the phone [or] knocking on doors,” Balanoff said.

Balanoff said there are some paid staff members at the office, but most of the people are working as volunteers.

Cady Mattson, a volunteer at the office, said she supports Sanders because he is a candidate who represents her values. Mattson said that free college is important and that the country needs to invest in its own young adults.

Kevin Griffin, a junior public sector management major at DePaul University, said in a Feb. 18 email that he went out to see Clinton speak in Bronzeville and that it was a valuable opportunity to hear her address plans for tackling issues in the black community.

“She was concerned about the future of our state and especially with the impact Gov. [Bruce] Rauner’s anti-union agenda is having on college students that rely on MAP grants. Hillary is the only candidate who seems to get the problems minorities face in regards to systemic racism, which goes far deeper than just income inequality,” Griffin said.

Both supporters of Sanders and Clinton agree that being informed and voting is important, and students’ votes count.

“When people tell me they’re not voting it’s like they’re telling me they couldn’t care less what happens in this country,” Mattson said.

William Vega, a volunteer at Sanders’ campaign office, said those who do vote inspire him to reach out to people who do not vote and inform them of the value of their vote.

“I think turning out to vote is how we promote democracy and how we have our voice heard,” Bye said.