They want to bring this grassroots candidate back to his class roots.
Brooklyn-born presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders challenged Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton to a debate in his native borough, and pundits are suggesting Barclays Center or MCU Park as possible venues — but locals say the Vermont senator’s Brooklyn alma mater, James Madison High School, is the only place to watch the pair duke it out.
“There are a lot of large venues around, but the thing that would be really interesting is if he came right back to his neighborhood, which is the Madison area — not Coney Island, or Barclays, or something like that,” said Ed Jaworski, president of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association. “He grew up just a couple block from Madison High School, so it’s an ideal location.”
Madison High School’s auditorium can accommodate 1,500 people, school officials said. But Sanders’ rallies have attracted tens of thousands of so-called “Berners.”
Sanders grew up on E. 26th Street between Kings Highway and Avenue P and graduated from James Madison High School in 1959, a yearbook shows. He reported for the school paper, the Highway Reporter, and ran on the school’s track and cross-country teams — a skill he apparently retains to this day, according to a cellphone video that recently went viral depicting the 71-year-old Sanders running to catch a train.
He also served as his homeroom’s class president, the yearbook states.
Officials at Madison High School have already reached out to Sanders’ campaign in the hopes of enticing the alumnus to come back and visit, and they are hopeful that the candidate will stop by sometime around the New York primaries, which are set for April 19.
“He seems to be really agreeable in terms of making an appearance here,” said school public relations guru Larry Melamed. “He’ll most likely have time in April to visit New York.”
The civic association invited Sanders to attend its October meeting last year, but Sanders sent them a letter declining.