York delegates: Democrats 'coming together'

Sean Philip Cotter, and David Weissman
York Dispatch

Oscar Salazar stood outside City Hall in Philadelphia wearing a onesie with various pictures of Bernie Sanders’ face all over it.

“He brought me this far,” the Westchester, New York, native said, a Sanders sign sticking out behind his head from the back of the onesie. “And now I’m wearing him.”

Around the corner, about 100 people at a rally loudly proclaimed their allegiance to the idea of “Bernie or Bust” — that they weren’t going to vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, as their favorite bespectacled Democratic-socialist candidate implored. Protesters waved cards that had the word “oligarchy” with a line through it and signs that read, for example, “Bernie got screwed.”

Oscar Salazar sports Bernie Sanders pajamas at Philadelphia's City Hall Wednesday, July 27, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

Salazar, though, was unwilling to heed Sanders' call.

"Hillary hasn’t earned my vote yet,” he said, but said that Clinton could, if she showed herself to be more consistently liberal.

York County is in the 4th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, from which the six allotted delegates split evenly between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. All delegates from York County, including one at-large delegate, are pledged to Clinton.

Sanders was supposed to speak to the Pennsylvania delegates at the DoubleTree hotel where they’re staying, but he canceled on them, citing scheduling conflicts.

State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin County, one of the delegates from York County’s district, is pledged to Clinton and said she wasn’t too disappointed Sanders didn’t show. She said his presence might have ended up being a bit of a distraction.

“I don’t know what it’s like for my candidate not to win, but I know there's a lot of heavy hearts here," she said. "It was a little tense at the beginning, but everyone is really coming together."

State Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, agreed that Democrats have come together after a “bumpy” start. He cited, among other things, first lady Michelle Obama’s Monday night convention speech as helping to unify the party.

York City Mayor Kim Bracey, who’s pledged to Clinton, said there’s still some progress to be made within the party, but she’s not too concerned.

“We have some work to do ahead,” she said.

But she doesn’t begrudge the Bernie-or-Bust crew their opinions or process.

“I think that’s one of the great things of America,” she said. “They should make their voices heard. It’s part of being Americans.”

On Wednesday, so many of the snippets of conversation wafting down the hot Philly sidewalks touched on the convention and the now nearly mononymous candidates — Hillary, Bernie and sometimes even Jill, referring to Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who spoke to a very receptive pro-Sanders crowd near Philadelphia's city center that afternoon.

Not all the Yorkers in the City of Brotherly Love were elected officials. Jada Richardson, a recent college graduate from York City, has been working as an intern for the Pennsylvania delegation

"It’s been really fun," said the 21-year-old. "I've been making a lot of connections and talking to a lot of people."

She said Bracey gave her the mayor's credential at one point on Tuesday night, so Richardson got to go down on the convention floor.

"I had the time of my life," she said.

Richardson, who recently organized a protest in York City over police shootings, is a Sanders fan, but not a hardliner.

"I'm definitely a Bernie supporter," she said. "But I definitely realize what’s at stake here."

She said her opposition to Republican nominee Donald Trump is pushing her toward Clinton, but also as she's learned more about the first female major-party nominee, the more she's liked her.

Terrell Turner, a Stewartstown man who was protesting in Philadelphia on Monday, said much the same.

"I think the Bernie-or-Bust crowd has to get with the program and realize we can't have Donald Trump," he said.

In a Monday protest, which shut down streets in the city, an array of different groups came together to collectively draw attention, Turner said. He was there for Sanders, some people turned out for sustainable food, or pot legalization, or the Black Lives Matter movement.

He said he was out there from about 10 a.m. until past 7 p.m., during which time the protesters asked for the Mississippi flag, which features the Confederate flag design, to be removed from one of the light poles. They sat down and blocked the streets, and within a few hours, city workers came and took it down. Turner, who said he's very much anti-extremism, was happy with that, and said this is how the system works — things happen incrementally from the bottom up, but only if activists keep the pressure on.

For example, Turner, who works for PA Progressives and Put People First, said he'd like to vote for Stein, but he more than likely isn't going to. He realizes the fight is Clinton-Trump and, for him, that makes it an easy choice.

"I know what's going to happen with a Hillary presidency," he said. "I don't with a Trump presidency. And that's scary."

And he doesn't see that as much of a sell-out, as some Sanders supporters do. Instead, he just sees a further ability to keep the heat on, pushing for the ideas he supports.

"The Democratic Party won't move until it's actually moved," he said.

— Reach Sean Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @SPCotterYD.