Boulder Democratic Convention Gives Delegates A Voice

This story was written by Marcy Franklin, Campus Press
The Boulder County Democratic Assembly and Convention looked like a sporting event last Saturday.

Boulder area delegates crammed the halls of Skyline High School in Longmont Saturday morning to support their Democratic congressional, state and presidential candidates of choice.

The citizens attending were elected at the caucuses on Feb. 5 to represent their precincts at the assembly and convention. Wearing signs, stickers, shirts and other campaign goods, delegates were enthusiastic to be a part of the political process.

Susan Boucher, a volunteer for the Boulder Democratic Party, said attendance like this at an assembly and convention had never been seen before.

When asked why there was such a huge turnout for the assembly and convention, she said, "I'd say it's because of the train wreck we've had for the last eight years."

Both the assembly and the convention filled the entire Skyline auditorium. Boucher said there were 1,168 seats in the auditorium.

At the 7:30 a.m. assembly, delegates voted on a ballot for a preference poll between 2nd Congressional District candidates, Jared Polis and Joan Fitz-Gerald, and the U.S. Senate candidates, Mark Udall and Mark Benner.

The third candidate for the 2nd Congressional District race, Will Shafroth, did not appear on the ballot. Shafroth is petitioning his way onto the ballot in the August primaries.

The delegates also voted on platform issues for the party.

Pat Hertzler, a volunteer for the Boulder County Democrats, said the platform committee has been working on the party's platform for a year. They put out statements to the caucuses to citizens to "prioritize" the party's platform. Her job was to input data from the platform survey to the headquarters. The platform was presented during the assembly.

Hertzler described what happens next.

"We then send [the platform] onto the state, saying that we, the people of Boulder, want to see this and this on the state platform, on the national platform," she said.

After the assembly, the convention for the presidential candidates began. Supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama filled the hallways with chants, bringing T-shirts, stickers, bags and signs as a proud display of their support.

Delegates from CU said they were eager to participate in the political process.

Nancy Billica, a CU political science professor, was there as an Obama delegate. She said her husband was a delegate that morning in support of Udall.

She saw why numbers were so large during the convention.

"We are in the middle of political change," she said. "People are frustrated, and are looking for a voice in shaping more responsible politics."

She said the caucuses in Colorado were relatively new, and have brought about a lot more involvement from the people who are actively discussing candidates and participating.

"Even though [the caucuses were] chosen for costs purposes, it has had democratic-based results," Billica said.

Delegates for each candidate were outspoken about their support.

Sarah Kihm, a sophomore accounting major at CU, has been working diligently for the Obama campaign since June 2007 and hoped to become a 2nd Congressional District and state delegate.

Kihm works as the CU campus coordinator for Obama's campaign. She said she met Obama last June after volunteering for an event.

"I was so inspired, it would be a waste of my time if I didn't get involved," she said. "More importantly, I trust him."

Kihm said Obama has encouraged the youth to vote, and values what young people have to say.

Kihm spoke during the convention on behalf of Obama's campaign.

"I'm only 19, I've only had a short amout of time to participate in the political process," she said to the crowd. "But I think it's time to see our country move forward and change, change for the better."

Other students showed their support for Sen. Clinton.

Doug Vilsack, 27, is a third-year law student at CU. He said he supports Clinton for her stance on important issues.

"Although both candidates are very similar on the issues, I think she has a better grasp of the issues," he said. "She can see clearly each little details, which I think is important for the next president."

Vilsack knows Clinton personally; his father was the former governor of Iowa and has met her before. Vilsack described her as a "wonderful person."

"A lot of political people say that other politicians are 'bad people,' but it's really not the case, she's a wonderful person," he said. "She's really been vilified by the Republicans, it frustrates me that that's gotten into the race."

Sarah Lavorgna, a freshman psychology major at CU, first began supporting Clinton when she went to the caucuses and met another CU student who was a "huge supporter" of Clinton.

Lavorgna said she believed in Clinton's experience, especially her opposition of the war as senator of New York.

"Obama's not ready," she said. "They're all great ideas, but he would freeze up [if President]."

Delegates in support of Clinton emphasized unity within the Democratic Party, no matter which candidate wins the nomination.

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb spoke to the crowd on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

"No matter how strongly we feel about our individual candidates, we have a common theme, and that common theme is to take back the White House," he said to applause.

At the end of the day, Obama won 878 votes, winning 75 percent of the delegates. Clinton won 281 votes, winning 24 percent of the votes. The delegates apportioned to each candidate will go on to the 2nd Congressional District, 4th Congressional District, and state conventions.
© 2008 Campus Press via U-WIRE