Local Obama fans headed to D.C. for inauguration day

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By Vicky Gits

Barack Obama may not be focusing on it, but according to an unofficial survey, Evergreen will be well represented in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day Jan. 20.

Getting close enough to actually see Obama in person, however, might be difficult if not impossible for almost everybody, since between 2 million and 3 million people are expected to attend the event.

Most people will be taking their chances among the teeming masses, like Janet Heck Doyle, her husband and son Lucas, who have their airplane tickets and a place to stay but no tickets that might guarantee priority seating or an entrée to a coveted inaugural ball.

Doyle was elected a member of the Evergreen park district board of directors in May. She was an enthusiastic Obama campaigner.

Only those with high-level connections are able to snag one of the 10,000 tickets that have been made available to members of Congress and other important officials. Senators and representatives get 200 tickets each.

Doyle has been trying to get tickets from sources like Mark Udall and Rep. Betsy Markey’s office but so far hasn’t received any positive response. They have made campaign contributions in hopes of being chosen in the lottery.

One goal is to hear Obama speak at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday and then go to the mall for the swearing in.

“We thought it was very historic. We have a 12-year-old. He was very much an Obama fan,” Doyle said.

Going to inaugurations is not something she typically likes to do, even while living in D.C. for at least 10 years. “I never once went to anything like that,” she said.

But the Obama promise has inspired Doyle.

“I think the country has been led in the wrong direction for a long time. … Obama truly does represent the hope that we can change that and get back to the core values of what America stands for. I want to show my support for that.”

Ready for the ball

Linda Rockwell, a longtime Democratic Party volunteer and former chair of the Jefferson County Dems, is one of the lucky ones who was able to get a ticket from the office of Congressman Ed Perlmutter, “whom I’ve know for a long, long time,” Rockwell said. Rockwell has been the chair of House District 25 since December 2007.

She isn’t exactly sure what having a ticket means.

“I don’t know how the lucky 10,000 will differ from the other 2 million,” she said.

Rockwell only knows she is supposed to appear at the Perlmutter office in person on Jan. 19. She thinks last-minute planning is a tactic the authorities use to confuse would-be evildoers.

Rockwell plans to attend a ball hosted by the Colorado Dems at the Westin City Center on inauguration night.

Her ball dress is a waltz-length royal blue vintage ‘80s number with a fitted jacket and a chiffon skirt purchased two years ago at the Evergreen Christian Outreach outlet and worn only once.

“It’s something Loretta Young would wear,” Rockwell said.

“I was told to avoid any regional balls. A friend went to one in 1992 and said there was no food, no place to sit and no place to put your coat. All you do is stand around and talk to the person you came with and hope that the president walks in,” Rockwell said.

“I expect I’ll be really, really tired. I will not feel like standing in high heels.”

Student of politics

For eighth-grader Sam Sahli of Evergreen, the Obama inauguration is an extension of his participation in the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, which is sponsoring a trip to D.C. and an opportunity to learn more about the electoral process.

Sahli was nominated to be in the CYLC as a sixth-grader at Evergreen Middle School.

Sahli will be flying out on his own and staying with a youth group at a 4-H conference center. The group hosts its own inaugural ball on the 20th.

He is looking forward to the inauguration and address and to watching the inaugural parade from the Marriott Hotel.

Sahli isn’t thinking about a future in politics necessarily, but he is a big Obama fan.

“The fun part is meeting kids from all over the country. It’s about the skills and values that you learn — understanding the vote, the Electoral College and the role of president.”

Sahli will also be filming the event and making a movie of it using a digital video camera as part of a home-school assignment.

Katharine Hahn, who served as the volunteer coordinator for the Obama campaign, also has plans to attend the inaugural with her husband, Chris, and their friend Ron Riley of Evergreen.

Riley put in about 1,000 hours on the Obama campaign and is looking forward to celebrating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“You aren’t there to see Obama, but rather before we get back to our regular lives to enjoy that rarity in American life and celebrate a president that really can make a difference,” Riley said.

Riley owns a technology company, Channel M2, which provided an Internet-based channel, My Policy, through which average people could communicate with the Obama campaign about policy preferences and concerns.

“It was a way to open a dialogue between people and anonymous, unseen policymakers,” he said.

Riley said he has been offered tickets to the inauguration through a friend who is close to U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado. But he is content to mingle with the masses.

“One does not need tickets to experience the inauguration. … My own preference is to be out with the regular people. There will be Jumbotrons on the mall, and we’ll be able to see better than everybody else.”

Riley is considering going to the Native American Powwow on Monday and possibly the Native American ball on Tuesday.

“I’m not dying to go to an official ball. Your chances of seeing Obama are about zero percent,” he said.