Bernie Sanders speaks at rally in Santa Maria - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Bernie Sanders speaks at rally in Santa Maria

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Saturday's Bernie Sanders rally in Santa Maria brought out thousands of people eager to see the Vermont Senator speak to residents of the Central Coast. According to Brian Wallace, Santa Maria High School's athletic director, 7,512 people were in attendance, to be exact.

Sanders is the first and only candidate to campaign on the Central Coast in this election cycle.

Sanders supporters lined before 5:00 a.m. Saturday, well before the event started just before 2:00 p.m. The crowds were bursting with energy, some wearing crazy costumes, awaiting to gain entry into the stadium.

Oyuki Perez of Santa Maria brought her six-year old son Duvan to the rally. Perez says her son is well aware of what's going on in politics, even at the age of six.

"I am here and I'm bringing him in because I want him to see what a movement is about, and what he can do as an individual," Perez said.

Gates opened for the event just before 10:00 a.m. William Carney of Paso Robles is a college student and stands behind Sanders and his initiative. He said seeing a Presidential candidate like Sanders in person makes him seem more relatable.

"Once you see them in person you bring them down to size," Carney said. "You can tell they were just like you once."

Prior to the senator's arrival, the crowd was entertained by folk singers Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion who sang classics, like, "This Land is Your Land."

People waited in the stadium for nearly four hours until Sanders took the stage just before 2:00 p.m., and when he did, he gave the crowd a speech with plenty of gusto.

"Looks to me you want a government that represents all of us and not just the one percent," Sanders told the energized crowd after he took to the podium.

He touched on multiple initiatives, including, healthcare and immigration reform, income and racial inequality and minimum wage.

"We're going to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour," Sanders said to the cheering crowd.

He talked about tuition-free education, one of the initiatives he supports that speaks directly to the younger generation.

"If they do well in school, yes they will be able to go to college regardless of the income of their families," Sanders said.

Throughout his conversation with the crowd, he talked about marijuana legalization, the national opioid epidemic, the fossil fuel industry, environmental issues, transforming the criminal justice system, taking big money out of politics, helping disabled veterans and seniors.

Following his speech, Sanders greeted supporters by shaking their hands, and even giving some hugs. He left Santa Maria to head to his third rally of his day, which was in Bakersfield.

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