Bernie Sanders visits Chico, Paradise


Angel Ortega

Bernie Sanders addresses the public at the Masonic Lodge in Chico on Thursday.

Hundreds waited in a line surrounding the Chico Family Masonic Center on a warm Thursday summer morning waiting for Presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders to arrive to host a town hall. 

The line was watched by event staffers, checking to see who had already RSVP’d. The parking lot was full, as people young and old waited in anticipation to hear what Sanders would say about Butte County, the Camp Fire and climate change.

Among the crowds of people in line were Chico State students that lead the Sunrise Movement on campus, a large movement focused on stopping climate change. They carried their signs in line and pitched some near the front of the building.

“We are trying to show up in full support and make sure that everyone realizes how important climate change is and the fact that it’s not a single issue, and it’s the most important thing that a presidential candidate can be discussing with us today,” said Sofia Lepore, club president of the Chico State Chapter for the Sunrise Movement.

Lepore hopes that the town of Chico and the Sanders campaign is taking them seriously and that all candidates in the 2020 election will make climate change their number one priority.

Once it was 10:30 a.m. the doors opened and people headed inside the Masonic lounge, 

Inside, attendants were given a bumper sticker with the phrase “Bernie For President 2020” and were directed to areas in the lounge where seating was available.

With over 600 people attending the event, a Cal Fire official announced that the building was nearing its limit and that people have to leave emergency exits in order to remain safe. Seating on some sides were reserved for disabled people and soon it had become a matter of getting in before the 700 person limit was full. 

Once the event had reached maximum occupancy people waiting outside were not allowed entrance.

Earlier that day senator Sanders announced his plan for the Green New Deal.

Chico State Geography Professor Mark Stemen believed that climate change is the most important thing to focus on right now and believes that thousands of jobs would be created under senator Sanders’ plan.

“I expect people to recognize that climate is the number one issue in the 2020 campign and there are a lot of things we can do about it,” said Stemen.


Soon the small panel of seats that were behind the podium filled up with young people from the Sunrise Movement, among them being Stemen.

Before Bernie appeared, congressional candidate Audrey Denney welcomed the event. Denney shared her interaction with Sanders last December, where Camp Fire survivors were taken to Washington DC asking them for support.

After Denney introduced herself Senator Sanders arrived, thanking people for attending. Then Sanders focused on the impact our climate has on the world. 

This was after he visited Paradise, where he saw the destruction caused by last year’s Camp Fire witnessing the damage the town went through.

After he explained his reaction to seeing the remains of Paradise, he called out President Donald Trump for claiming that climate change is a myth.

“To say the least, it was sobering, it was shocking, it was sad…” said Sanders. 

“The purpose of being here today is to learn a little more about what went on here, but most importantly to make sure that the people of our country understand that President Trump is wrong, wrong, wrong, when he believes that climate change is a myth.”

He also spoke more about the Green New Deal, explaining that spending $16 trillion in the next decade is a better option than waiting for more climate change to affect the world and that it would be more expensive to deal with the effects of climate change in the long run.

Under the Green New Deal, climate change would be declared a national emergency, meaning that there would be an effort to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used. Sanders said that when he wins, it would be done the first day he enters office and that there would be financial support for people affected by previous climate disasters.

“Believing that this is an existential crisis, obviously it’s on day number one, the day after we win we begin the process of transforming our country,” said Sanders.

 “We are very mindful that in this tragedy, in Katrina, in other terrible tragedies that we have seen hurricanes, fires and other disasters a lot of the people who suffer are low-income working people that we put into this program to help out those communities.”


Julian Mendoza can be reached at @JulianMTheOrion on Twitter or [email protected]