|Having recently returned from his third Democratic National Convention, Los Altos resident Jim Thurber said no other political event could ever compare to the week he spent in Denver.
Thurber is one of six representatives from Anna Eshoo's congressional District 14, which includes Mountain View, who attended the convention last week. In the spring, local Democrats elected three delegates to attend the political event and vote for Sen. Barack Obama, and three others to vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Clinton ceded the race later in the year, making Obama the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate -- as a result, her delegates also voted for him last week.
During last week's four-day event, the six local representatives met with other delegates, listened to speakers, attended caucuses and cheered their Democratic leaders.
"It was wonderful up to the ending night, which was magical," said Thurber, who worked for the State Department before retiring, and now spends his time volunteering for the Democratic Party.
"You had to be there to see 82,000 people in the stadium," he said of Obama's speech the last night of the convention. "It was an amazing event."
Along with Thurber, Bruce Swenson, president of the Foothill-De Anza College Board of Trustees, and Lorraine Hariton went to the convention as Clinton delegates from District 14.
The Obama delegates were Roger Hu, a Los Altos resident and engineer; Julie Lythcott-Haims, an administrator at Stanford University; and Molly Kawakata, a Berkeley student raised on the Peninsula.
"Every day I went [to the convention] feeling very grateful," Hu said. "It was a chance to celebrate how far we have come."
"It was big boost," he added.
The local representatives joined other California delegates each morning for a two-hour breakfast, which normally included talks from state politicians. They attended lectures and caucuses until they returned to the convention center in the late afternoon for the evening speakers.
All delegates had to pay their own way, and convention staff arranged for the California delegation to stay in the same hotel. Some delegates fundraised, but many said they didn't have time between their jobs and volunteering for the political campaigns.
Convention events ended at 10:30 p.m. each night and were followed by parties and celebrations, according to Hu, the campaign coordinator of the Silicon Valley headquarters in Palo Alto.
"You had to go to all the events," he said. "You had to be part of the historical moment."
Hu said some lines for convention events were more than a mile long, and that Secret Service agents were everywhere, checking bags and visitors before they entered the center. As a delegate, he was able to bypass these queues. Once inside, Hu said he was physically very close to many of the party luminaries, including San Francisco Congresswoman and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Obama's wife, Michelle Obama.
Hu, who had never been to a convention, said it was quite a different experience actually being on the floor. He wrote about all the behind-the-scenes action on a blog the three District 14 delegates shared, www.obama14.com.
"No one saw the TelePrompTer that all the speakers were using," he noted.
Lythcott-Haims said she was surprised to see so many protestors outside the convention center, decrying everything from Guantanamo Bay to the candidate himself. Although she disagreed with some of their issues, "I found myself proud to be a citizen of a country with freedom of speech," she said.
However, Lythcott-Haims said there was a small group of delegates who refused to vote for Obama, and she saw one man with a "Nobama" sticker.
For his part, Thurber said it was easy for him to support Obama.
"Hillary made it very clear she was backing Obama," Thurber said of Clinton's speech at the event. "That was a message we should vote for him too, which I did."
Back home, the delegates have resumed their volunteer work for the Democratic candidate. Hu says he is continuing to spend the majority of his free time at the party headquarters in Palo Alto, rallying local support for Obama, and Thurber is now serving as a liaison between the Obama office and other Democratic offices in Santa Clara County.
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