The Sopris Sun

Local Bernie Sanders organizer says he can win in 2016

Two other Sanders groups in play

By John Colson

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Carbondale resident John Field had not expected to become the local organizer of a “Roaring Fork 4 Bernie Sanders” presidential campaign organization.

But, he admitted somewhat ruefully on Aug. 10, that’s essentially what he is, at least in terms of his role in the 2016 presidential election.

“I’ve never really done anything … as far as organizing is concerned,” said Field, who moved to the Roaring Fork Valley about three years ago and currently works as a bus driver for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.

A few weeks ago, however, he went to the presidential campaign website for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and learned that there was to be an online, live-stream campaign event for the candidate on July 29.

Impressed by what Sanders had been saying on the campaign trail, Field reserved the Calaway Room at the Third Street Center for the time of the event and started telling people to come and watch the man that Field believes will be the next President of the United States.

He did not advertise beyond word of mouth, although the candidate’s website (berniesanders.org) contained a listing for the Third Street Center as a place to go, and he was happily surprised by the turnout.

“There were 61 people in the room,” he said in an amazed tone, noting that when he reserved the Calaway Room, “There was a lot of people that (expressed) heartfelt (sentiments), knowing that we had to do something to take this country back from the oligarchy.”

Field has now put up a Facebook page for Sanders, has some co-organizers on a list generated during the July 29 event, and is planning to put together a donor campaign calling on supporters to pledge money to the candidate on Sanders’ upcoming 74th birthday on Sept. 18.

“I want people to give $74 on his 74th birthday,” Field said.

Field noted that, aside from his Facebook page for Sanders, there are at least two others on the Western Slope — one started by a man in Glenwood Springs, titled “Western Slope Colorado” for Bernie Sanders, and another named “Aspen for Bernie Sanders.”

And, he said confidently, “there must be others” in other parts of the state.

He also noted that Sanders, speaking on the campaign trail in recent weeks, drew 15,000 supporters to an event in Seattle, Washington, and 28,000 in Portland, Oregon — turnouts that have drawn national news coverage for the candidate and his ideas.

When asked whether Sanders’ candidacy can be successful, Field said enthusiastically, “It’s very clear he’s making a difference. I see polls where he’s pulling right alongside Hillary (Clinton, who has been viewed as the likely Democratic nominee).”

Pointing to Sanders’ recent events, Field suggested the candidate may be drawing on a large but ill-defined mass of voters who put President Barack Obama in office in 2008, but were later disappointed by Obama’s perceived inability to live up to his promise for real political change in the country.

“Bush was an unknown. Obama was an unknown” before either man won the presidency, Field maintained, but Sanders has been around for decades and is better known than either Bush or Obama.

“I absolutely think he has a possibility of winning,” Field said.

“He’s the hope,” Field continued. “I think the hope that got Obama elected, it’s also going to get Bernie elected.”

As for Sanders’ age, which has been cited by critics as a drawback, Field said he sees the issue differently.

“He’s in good health,” Field maintained, adding, “I get 90-year-olds on my bus, going skiing, and they’re sharp as tacks. Societally, I think we need to shift, and accept that not everybody gets Alzheimer’s at 80.”

Doodle.com

Among his growing tasks for the campaign, Field said he plans to put up a Doodle calendar (doodle.com), so interested locals can sign up and be involved in scheduling additional campaign events in the future, as a way of starting the Bernie Sanders ball rolling for the Roaring Fork Valley.

Field, 59, has not always been a progressive political activist. He was born and raised in California, and was a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). He said he moved to Seattle in 1981, and lived there until moving to Colorado three years ago. He said he had been an active Christian while living in Seattle adding that, “being a Christian, I was automatically a Republican.”

In fact, he said, he voted for George W. Bush in 2000, although he soured on Bush and the Republican Party after the 9-11 terror attacks, when he watched Bush “standing on that pile of rubble with a megaphone” calling for a war on terrorists.

“When he started talking about going into Iraq, I said, ‘no way.’” Field recalled. “I was done with the Republican party.”

Since then, he has been an independent, although he plans to register as a Democrat for 2016 in order to vote in the Democratic primaries.

Field can be reached by e-mail at aweha88@gmail.com for more information about his work for the Sanders campaign.

Published in The Sopris Sun on August 13, 2015.