High Country delegates
Basalt resident Bryan Gonzales was never involved much in politics.
“I’ve followed it my whole life; I enjoy it and I love reading about it,” Gonzales said. “I just never envisioned getting this involved in it.”
And involved he is. Gonzales is one of two Eagle County delegates, along with veteran delegate Debbie Marquez, to the Democratic National Convention, which will run from Aug. 25 to 28 in Denver.
The convention will be Gonzales’ first political event.
“I’m a political virgin,” he said. “It was a cold night in February, I went to the caucus and got swept up into the fervor, and now I’m loving it.”
Gonzales had no plans to run for a delegate position but was selected as an at-large delegate for the state of Colorado at the state convention. As a Latino and executive director of the Roaring Fork Gay and Lesbian Community Fund, he fits into two diversity categories established by the state delegate selection plan.
The state established seven diversity categories, including several ethnic backgrounds, people with disabilities, youth, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered residents.
Gonzales said he is looking forward to the convention even though his chosen candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, will likely not win the nomination. He’s still casting his initial vote for Clinton but is ready to support Sen. Barack Obama with his final vote.
“By virtue of the fact that he’s not a white guy, the rest of the world will look at us in a different light, and I think that’s important,” Gonzales said. “He’s going to do a lot to, shall we say, dispel the myth of straight, old white guys running the country.”
Gonzales will be performing community service at a soup kitchen and also is looking forward to the parties, but said he thinks voting will be the most exciting part of the convention.
“We hear so much that someone needs 2,025 votes to win the nomination, and I’m one of those guys,” Gonzales said. “Out of all the guys that voted, I’m one of those whose vote is actually going to determine who gets to win.”
Marquez, who owns Fiesta’s Mexican Restaurant in Edwards, is one of Colorado’s 15 superdelegates. She has pledged her support for Obama.
No stranger to politics, Marquez went to the past two Democratic National Conventions ” in Los Angeles and Boston ” once as a delegate and once as a DNC member elect, which means she had been selected for the next year’s DNC, but had not yet taken her position. She also served three terms as vice chair of Eagle County Democrats, a year as precinct committeewoman and a year as Eagle County Democrats treasurer.
The biggest difference she noticed between this and previous conventions is the amount of public interaction scheduled this year.
Obama’s acceptance speech, which will be held at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, will be open to members of the public, and there will be a town hall function every night of the convention where speakers will answer questions from around the country. Questions will be selected from a pool submitted online at http://www.demconvention.com/townhall/, and submissions will be accepted until Aug. 27.
“I thought that was a very neat idea and unique,” she said. “Those are real important changes.”
Marquez will be involved in several caucuses during the DNC, including the women’s, western and Hispanic caucuses, and an unofficial rural caucus. Caucuses at the DNC are responsible for preparing party policy reports to submit for the official party platform.
Marquez also is credentialed for the blogger’s tent, and hopes to blog every day at greenchiledems.soapblox.net.
There is no state or national funding for delegates, so funding is up to the individual delegate and his or her local party. Marquez said she spends an average of $1,200 at each convention for lodging, transportation and food.
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