The grand opening of the candidate’s headquarters took place on Tuesday at a co-working office operated by Spaces. Volunteers streamed into the third floor office to pick up stickers and pins and to sign up for canvassing and phone banking. A cutout of the Vermont senator’s head greeted volunteers as they walked in with the words “In Bernie We Trust” pasted next to it.
A mix of full-time and part-time volunteers attended the opening, including Ed Droste, the lead singer of Brooklyn-based band Grizzly Bear.
Astoria resident Kyle Garcia said he has been a “huge advocate” for Sanders and wanted to lend his time and voice to the senator’s campaign.
“I’m just really electrified and now that the stakes are so high, it’s even more important for me to be here,” Garcia said.
He added that Sanders’ stance on civil rights and his foreign policy judgement are some of the reasons why Garcia is voting for him.
“I think it’s really important for people to get educated and it’s really important for them to do their research on their candidates and who they really want to invest their lives and their well-being into because that’s whats really at stake here,” Garcia said.
Several full-time volunteers have been traveling with the campaign for months and hail from as far away as Illinois. The Sanders campaign has also set up a staging area in Astoria and Jamaica ahead of the New York primary on April 19 and will host a rally at Hunters Point South Park on April 18.
His staff trains all volunteers and assign them to knock on doors and call registered democrats to educate them on his policy stances and to try to secure a win in New York.
“We need people morning to night, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., to help us with volunteering because Bernie can’t win this without every single one of us here helping out,” said Nida Allam, a staffer for the Sanders campaign.
Droste, the founder of Grizzly Bear, said he has always voted for Democratic candidates but did not closely follow “what was happening within the Democratic Party.”
“What was the most interesting thing to me about Bernie was that [he] challenged my notion of what I trusted and believed in and I feel sort of silly that I didn’t take the time sooner in life to question the Democratic Party,” Droste said. “This is not a slam on anything. I’m not here to talk crap about other candidates but I will say I didn’t realize how much corruption there was on both sides of the party.”
He added that he believes the government needs to be reformed and that it is “crucial” to remove the influence of money on government. Droste traveled to New York from Los Angeles to speak to colleges about the candidate, and his band will be performing at a rally in Prospect Park on Sunday.
“There is one thing that will not change if we don’t elect Bernie and that is money corrupting the government, and that is super huge because we will continue to find out about things like Flint and various tragedies happening all over the country,” Droste said.