'Not Many...Get to Do What We Will'
Three of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention next week are from Barrington.
Three of the delegates heading to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., next week are from Barrington.
Town Council President June Speakman, Democratic Town Committee chair Mary Alyce Gasbarro and Democratic activist Anne Connor will participate in the four-day convention that starts Tuesday. Neither of them has ever attended a convention.
“I was at President Obama’s inauguration,” said Connor, “and I wanted to continue this journey.”
“I’m a loyal Democrat,” said Speakman, “and this is a big deal. And as a political scientist, I wanted to see how this works.”
Speakman is a professor of political science at Roger Williams University. She expects to bring back to her students a wealth of information gathered first-hand on this political process.
“I wanted to attend one in my lifetime,” said Gasbarro, a longtime Town Committee member. “I want to experience the process, read the platform, and be a good American.”
Neither of the delegates leaves for Charlotte with any expectations.
“I have no idea what to expect,” said Speakman, although she does anticipate that the logistics will be difficult given the size of the small city and an invasion by 7,000 delegates and 4,000 journalists.
“I have none,” Gasbarro said of expectations. “I just want to be in on it.”
“I’m going with a clean slate,” said Connor. “I want to experience everything.”
Connor said she is particularly interested in meeting delegates from other states. The RI delegation is staying in the same hotel as delegations from Michigan and Maryland, so she will get her chance.
Each of the women said they plan to participate in caucuses and attend receptions. The Women’s Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus are of particular interest to Speakman and Gasbarro.
Speakman is looking forward the most to President Obama’s speech next Thursday evening after he receives the Democratic nomination. But she also can’t wait to hear the speech by First Lady Michelle Obama because of some of the sniping done this week at the Republican National Convention about her dress and look as a First Lady.
“If I could have one wish filled,” said Connor, “it would be to meet the President.”
She doesn’t expect that will happen at the convention.
The delegates said they have been receiving constant emails and information about the convention. They expect to run into a variety of protesters as well as scores of delegates and politicians.
“We’ve been told to avoid them for security reasons,” said Gasbarro of any protesters. “Just walk straight ahead.”
Their days will start with breakfast with the entire RI delegation, which includes most of the state’s major Democrats. That’s when they will get their daily credentials and their intineraries.
The women said they have received “goodie bags” to carry to the convention. The bags contain RI delegation T-shirts, pins, buttons, pens and other memorabilia.
Do they believe that the convention is a meaningful exercise to most people?
“It’s the celebration of our candidate,” said Speakman, “and it helps us define our political differences. Millions watch. And most candidates get a bump in the polls. This is the kickoff to the general election.”
The women all said they are “very excited” about going to the convention and hanging out with this country’s leading Democrats.
“Not many people get to do what we will do,” said Connor.