Wilmington, DE (August 31, 2018) – Kerri Evelyn Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined forces today to hold dual town halls in Delaware to rally voters before the September 6 primary election.
“The weekend before my election victory, Kerri came up to New York to help engage with voters,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “She got my back, and now I’m here to get her back,”
Before an energized crowd of over four hundred attendees at the University of Delaware, and not just students, but people of all ages and backgrounds, Harris asked everyone to stand up, look around, and shake hands with the person next to them.
“This is what democracy looks like. When you look around you see people of every skin color, gender, sexual orientation. We are everything,” said Harris to applause. “The power structures want to shut us down. They want to turn us against each other. We need to come together and say that’s wrong.”
Moderated by Newark Councilperson Jen Wallace, the town hall covered a range of issues related to income inequality, from crushing student loan debt to raising the minimum wage.
“The people want change,” Harris said.
When questioned about the role that student loan debt plays in America’s growing income inequality crisis, Harris said the U.S. government has the power to forgive those loans, and in doing so boost the economy.
“Economist after economist says that if we wipe out student loan debt that it will inject $100 billion into our economy every year. You know why? Because when you graduate from college and get a job, you’ll use that money to buy things. You know what happens when you give tax cuts to banks and the ultra rich? They buy stocks, and they get richers while we get poorer.”
Ocasio added, “It’s not a cost, it’s an investment in the future that will create more wealth for our country.”
When the discussion transitioned to health care, Harris pointed to her conversations with voters while knocking on doors, and said that even people with health care can’t afford to use it, and the only viable solution to America’s health care crisis is a single-payer system.
Ocasio-Cortez agreed. “A single-payer healthcare bill before the New York state senate will allow for someone making $60,000 per year to get healthcare for $60 per month.
We have our ideas. We need to ask them: what’s your idea? More corporate healthcare? More corporate insurance? To concentrate the wealth more in the hands of those who already have it? Give me a real idea!”
Ocasio-Cortez added, “The question we need to be asking is: How do we make it happen?”
“You have to vote for your own best interest,” said Harris, “not because someone has a strong handshake, a warm smile, and a witty comeback.”
In her closing remarks, Harris called on more women in the audience to run for office.
Later in the day at Kingswood Community Center in Wilmington, Harris and Ocasio-Cortez were joined by moderator Eugene Young, President and CEO of the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League, and over 300 people attended for a discussion about criminal justice reform.
The town hall opened with a prayer by Rev. Lawrence Livingston followed by Ocasio-Cortez who kicked off her stump by reminding the crowd that in the final days of the campaign that “many hands make light work” and urged the attendees to volunteer and that “despair dissolves the moment we choose to act.”
Harris then took the stage sharing her working class background as a gay, black, female, parent and veteran and reminded the room that as a working class American: “We’ve been denied, but we’re not disqualified.”
“There is no reason why we can’t re-prioritize and put people first” she added.
During the moderated discussion, Ocasio-Cortez and Harris both drew attention to the failures of our criminal justice system.
On Harris’ opponents record, saying that “The biggest prison expansion happened under his watch. You can’t just show up and pretend you care when you’re destroying our families.”
“In Delaware on any given day 2000 people are seeking treatment for opioid addiction and there are only 300 beds” Harris added, calling out the urgent need for drug treatment.
Harris closed calling on everyone in the room to consider run for office and to “run with urgency.”
After the town halls, Harris attended the International Overdose Awareness Day Vigil in Wilmington, just hours after news broke that Sen. Tom Carper came under fire for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from opioid manufacturers that are currently facing lawsuits brought by Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn.
Photo cover: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kerri Evelyn Harris at the town hall. (Credits: Kerri E. Harris Press Office).
Photo #2: After the hall town Ocasio-Cortez, Harris and her team taking Harris to her next meeting in Wilmington, the International Overdose Awareness Day Vigil. (Credits: Kerri E. Harris Press Office).