There will be 300 delegates from Florida attending the Democratic National Convention, which runs from Tuesday to Thursday next week in Charlotte, N.C., and two of those will be from Charlotte County — Teresa Jenkins and Robert J. Taylor.Together with the eight other
delegates , they will represent Florida’s 16th Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties.
Jenkins, a newcomer to politics, said it was a “big honor” to have been selected. As a former president of the League of Women Voters, she previously had been an independent. But in this election, she “felt strongly about the issues” and decided to register as a Democrat. She has become more involved in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
She believes she was selected as a delegate because of her extensive background working with the Labor and Management Relations Program in the Clinton administration in the 1990s.
“There were 1.8 million federal employees and my role was to work with the national union,” she said. “President (Bill) Clinton wanted collaboration between both the union and management.”
Taylor, on the other hand, has been very active in the Democratic Party for the past 10 years. He too feels it’s an honor to have been selected from the large number of potential candidates. Describing himself as a “very progressive person,” Taylor sees the convention as an opportunity to showcase some of the issues that have a special meaning for him, as well as the Democratic Party.
“I am big on pro-choice and gay and lesbian rights,” he said. “The Obama administration has had a decent position on that, especially with the military. I think we should be inclusive for all types of people. There should be equality for all.”
On the first day, the Democrats will decide on the party platform, and according to Jenkins, the economy and jobs are clearly at the top of the list. She also will be a member of the Rural Committee, reaching out to small towns and agricultural communities within the district and trying to get them involved in the political process.
Jenkins wants the speakers, such as Clinton and another former president, Jimmy Carter, to depict a different picture of Obama than the one being projected by the Republicans.
“President Obama has not failed the country,” Jenkins said. “He was given an economy on the brink of another depression. He saved the banking and auto industries and fully restored the stock market. He eliminated the individual responsible for the terrible Sept. 11 tragedies. He has ended one war and has put us on the path to end another. By doing this, he has painted an effective image of the U.S. around the world.”
Both Taylor and Jenkins see the convention as a large part of the democratic process. By listening to the candidates and becoming aware of the issues, they hope it will get other voters involved.
“My wife and I are already fired up,” Taylor said. “But my expectations from this convention are getting us even more fired up, and I encourage other people to do the same.”