There was barely a moment at the 2012 Democratic National Convention when Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre was not on her feet. The energy from the speakers electrified the audience and created a buzz in the stadium.
From Monday to Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina, a range of prominent Democrats within the National Party rallied an audience to vote in November for Barack Obama and other elected officials.
“I was wiping my eyes the entire time,” Aguirre laughed. “Everyone was so moved by the speeches that you wanted to get up and cheer every few minutes.
The mayor noted that people could connect to the variety and the diversity of the stories of all the speakers.
Joe Biden’s speech impressed her because she had never really heard his personal story before, and former Congresswoman Gabriel Gifford’s Pledge of Allegiance brought tears to her eyes, she said.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s speech particularly resonated with her because of his own personal story of resilience and triumph. Castro credited his mother’s dedication to him and his twin brother, Joaquin, and the American education system that helped guide him to the DNC stage, “so that instead of holding a mop, I could hold this microphone,” Castro told the audience.
“His mother must have been so proud,” Aguirre said. “And as the mother of two sons, I could definitely relate to her pride.”
These stories are what differentiates the Democratic Party and enables people from all backgrounds to connect with each other, Aguirre said. From the military veterans to the recent college graduates, everyone had something to connect to.
Listening to these riveting speeches was just one part of the convention for Aguirre. As an elected official, she was able to meet and speak with other officials in the California delegation like former Governor Gray Davis, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland, Oakland Mayor Jean Quon and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
A surprise meeting? With MC Hammer.
“It was such a great experience meeting so many people,” Aguirre said. “The convention definitely made me more excited, just like the chant, ‘Fire it up, read to go!’”
Getting to Charlotte
After President Barack Obama in Redwood City, the Obama team reached out to Aguirre to apply for a spot at the convention as a Political Leader and Elected Official (PLEO).
Having never before been a delegate, she said she seized the opportunity. Though she attended as the Mayor of Redwood City, she said she lived the experience as an individual.
“As the Mayor, we have different issues at the local level than the national level, and I look at all sides of the issue, not just based on political party,” she said.
She attended the convention on her own time and paying her own way, completely separate from anything city-related.
“Even though we’re elected officials, we’re individuals too,” she explained. “And we have political views, religious views and our own beliefs.”
She ultimately became a Democrat because of the party’s stance on jobs, education and immigration. As a professor at herself, she felt that education was a key part of the Democrats’ platform.
But, she added, she would have loved to attend the Republican National Convention. Instead she watched it on television because she felt it was important to constantly listen to both sides.
And while at the DNC, she enjoyed the hospitality and beauty of Charlotte, North Carolina, she said.
“Charlotte is a beautiful city,” Aguirre said. “But I’m really looking forward to coming home.”
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