“So Sanders, what are you going to different? All you guys come up here, what are you going to different?” an audience member asked Councilman James Sanders Friday night at a Democratic club in Richmond Hill.
Mr. Sanders, a candidate for the State Senate against incumbent Shirley Huntley, then strolled up to the front.
“I’m glad you asked that question sir, and I’m going to answer you this way,” he responded. “One of the things that we’re going to different is that we’re going to open up an office in this community. This noble community should not have to trek a million miles to get service.”
The audience member, who happened to be Mr. Sanders himself assuming multiple roles as he scurried back and forth between his speaking position and the crowd, amusingly countered, “That’s good Sanders, but that’s only the beginning, we need more!”
“Who is this guy, is he with you?” he jested after again traveling to the front, continuing the performance and gesturing to people around him. “Somebody watch this guy. Alright, if you want more, you’re going to get more. If you want more, you’re going to have to do more! That office that we speak of should have an Indo-Caribbean or South Asian person working in it. … That community should be reflected. A person should have the feeling of warmth going in there and not have to jump over a bunch of cultural barriers to get stuff done.”
“That’s amazing Sanders, I really like you!” he said again to himself, returning to the audience.
We attempted to turn our camera to face him as he spoke, preferring to film the candidate instead of the empty space where he once was, causing him to jokingly interject to us, “Don’t do that, I’m not ready yet. I’m going to fire this guy!”
He quickly got back into character, declaring to himself, “I really like you, that’s amazing!”
“That’s a tough guy to win over, I’m glad I win you over and that’s alright,” he shot back.
And so Mr. Sanders’ energized speech went, the purpose of which was to mobilize South Asian voters as he competes in the September 13th primary against Ms. Huntley, whose district was reconfigured to not only includes Mr. Sanders’ electoral base in the Rockaways, but also most of Queens’ South Asian community in Richmond Hill and Ozone Park.
Indeed, almost all of the other legislative districts in the area — at all levels of government — dilute the South Asian community by pizza-slicing their neighborhoods into the surrounding districts, but Mr. Sanders said that the newly formed Richmond Hill Democratic Club, which endorsed him at Friday’s inaugural meeting, could help change that by turning out the vote for him. If political leaders saw this community turning out this year and tangibly impacting local elections, the argument went, then South Asians might have a seat at the table for the 2013 City Council redistricting, in addition other things, including the all-important allocation of public funds.
“I need you to take this personally … but I need you to do it with a very sophisticated way of looking at it,” Mr. Sanders told the audience of their support. “I want you to move this community because the powers that be are going to look at how many votes you turn out. I’ll say it again, the powers that be are going to look at how many votes you turn out. They’re looking to see, is the South Asian community awake? Is the Indo-Caribbean community awake? In this country, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Watch the entire pitch and performance below: