Local Delegates Express Excitement at Convention

MARTINS FERRY – He has temporarily lost his voice, but vocal ability isn’t stopping Shadyside resident Ed Good or other local residents from sounding out as delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Good, Denise Leach of Barnesville, Diane Conroy of Jacobsburg and Jeremy Eikenberry of Mount Pleasant all were selected to attend the convention as delegates representing Ohio’s 6th Congressional District during a “pre-primary caucus” April 12 at Martins Ferry High School. Good said the delegation arrived in Charlotte on Sunday.

The Ohio delegation to the convention is situated 60 feet away from the speaker’s podium at Time-Warner Arena – an indication, he said, of just how important Ohio’s support is to this election.

The delegates were close by when first lady Michelle Obama gave the keynote speech Tuesday night, and they acknowledged their excitement.

“I’m without voice, but I still screamed – yes, I did,” Good said. “She did a great job. She really nailed it.”

During the morning hours, delegates attend caucus meetings or sit in on platform committee discussions. Then Ohio’s delegates are bused about 12 miles from their hotel to evening events at the arena.

On Wednesday, they eagerly awaited the keynote speech of former President Bill Clinton. The weather has been rainy in Charlotte this week, and tonight’s nomination acceptance speech by President Barack Obama has been moved indoors as thunderstorms are expected.

Good – former chairman of the Belmont County Democrat Party – said it is the first time he has attended the convention. He has been participating in labor caucus meetings while in Charlotte and missed a scheduled James Taylor concert for delegates to attend one meeting.

“Since we got here Sunday, it’s been non-stop between caucus meetings and events,” he said. “It’s been absolutely great.

“There is unbelievable excitement. People are fired up and ready to go. It’s an unbelievable atmosphere. It really is … I was expecting a great event, but it has surpassed expectations.”

Good said Democrats do seem confident this year.

“The heart of the party – those people who are here – are ready to go home and work extra hard,” he added.

Leach, an eighth-grade teacher at Barnesville Middle School, said it also was her first trip to the convention.

“Every morning we get up and go to the Ohio caucus,” she said. “We talk about platforms, then we usually have a little bit of a break. There are different caucuses to attend, and so many things to do and participate in.”

Leach said she has attended events sponsored by the National Education Association. She also hopes to speak to her students in Barnesville from the convention through a video conference connection.

“I’m excited to take things back and talk about it with the kids,” she said. “It’s just the experience of it all and seeing it in person. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.”

Neither Conroy nor Eikenberry could be reached for comment Wednesday.

On the West Virginia side, 1st District congressional candidate Sue Thorn is to arrive at the convention today in time for Obama’s speech, said spokeswoman Erin Beck.

“She’ll only be spending one day there as a guest – not a delegate,” Beck said. “As a proud, life-long Democrat, Sue is looking forward to spending time in Charlotte with fellow Democrats. However, she’ll return quickly to get back to campaigning.”

Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahall and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin all announced earlier this year they would not attend the convention.