Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made his first visit to Northern Nevada Wednesday night to rally for his 2020 presidential campaign. Roughly 1,500 people flooded Reno's City Plaza for his speech. KUNR Reporter Stephanie Serrano was there.
The local North Tahoe country band Dead Winter Carpenters played while community members settled in around the podium where presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders would soon speak.
5 o’clock hit and there was still no sight of Sanders. That’s because three guest speakers held the mic. One-by-one, they spoke about the lack of affordable healthcare, spiking rent costs and the need for accessible higher education.
One of those speakers was Marissa Weaselboy, a first generation Native American representing the Shoshone Nation. She’s also a current graduate student working on her master's in linguistic anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“I'm not simply an anthropologist,” Weaselboy said. “I am an indigenous anthropologist who is redefining how anthropology can work for indigenous peoples. This is why differing tuition is so important, so others from marginalized communities can do similar work that works to undo damage inflicted on our communities by academics and institutions of power that [back] them.”
Only moments after Weaselboy spoke in support of Sanders, he appeared on stage.
Sanders spent about an hour discussing his stance on a wide range of topics from supporting abortion rights to ending private jails and detention centers, and, of course, reducing student debt.
“Now people say, 'Well, Bernie, that's a good idea, but how are you going to pay for making public colleges and universities tuition-free and reduce student debt?' And I will tell you how: 10 years ago, the working people of this country bailed out Wall Street after the crooks on Wall Street destroyed our economy. We have introduced legislation that would put a tax on Wall Street speculation and we will, with that money, fund free tuition at public colleges and universities,” Sanders said.
As for the 1,500 attendees, a mix of emotions lingered. Some said Sanders is past his prime and are excited about what other Democratic candidates have to offer, like Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Others said they are standing behind Sanders because he has been consistent with what he is fighting for.
For Amy Smith, she says she just wants a different ending to the presidential race this time around.
“I want to engage in this election more than I did in the 2016 election so that I am happier with the outcome and feel like I did more than just show up and vote,” Smith said.
Along with the Sanders rally, another Democratic presidential hopeful is visiting Northern Nevada this week. Senator Amy Klobuchar is scheduled to hold a roundtable in Carson City.