East Bay Dem delegates thrilled about Denver

Once again, I wound up with far more detail then we could accommodate in Lisa Vorderbrueggen’s and my story about East Bay folks elected Sunday as delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

ayelet-waldman.jpgBerkeley author Ayelet Waldman – who with her husband, author Michael Chabon, has been raising funds and writing praise for Obama – was elected as an Obama delegate from Rep. Barbara Lee’s 9th Congressional District.

“I’m thrilled beyond belief, I am happier than I ever thought – I didn’t realize how much I cared until push came to shove,” Waldman, 43, said Monday.

“This is the first time in either of our lives that we’ve been this excited, this committed, this interested quite frankly,” she said of herself and Chabon, adding that for them 2004’s election was all about defeating George Bush rather than about electing John Kerry. “The opportunity to vote for someone rather than against someone is a profound experience that neither of us has ever felt before.”

“My profoundest hope is that it’s going to be a fun-filled few days – that we’ll have it decided long before, that everyone will have thrown their support behind Barack,” she said, but it if the nomination comes down to a battle on the convention floor, “then I want to be there for that too.”

Read more, after the jump…

Jennifer Pae, 25, of Oakland, spent weeks drumming up support for her delegate candidacy on Facebook and MySpace. She was purged from the candidate list by the Obama campaign but then was restored, and quickly got back to visiting local Democratic groups as the weekend approached. She kept talking to potential supporters even as they lined up for Sunday’s caucus, and it worked: She was elected as an Obama delegate from Rep. Barbara Lee’s 9th Congressional District.

“I’m really excited and I feel honored to be able to go to the convention… This is a real privilege for me,” Pae said Monday, adding she’s ready to spend her time in Denver either celebrating or battling for Obama’s nomination. Afterward, “we hope that the party can come together, and we will win in November.”

quan.jpgOakland City Councilwoman Jean Quan, 58, was elected as a Clinton delegate from Rep. Barbara Lee’s 9th Congressional District. Appointed by the Clinton Administration to an education rule-making committee, Quan said she met Hillary Clinton several times and was impressed with her grasp of education issues, just as Quan’s husband – a former medical director at Alameda County Medical Center’s Highland Hospital – met Clinton and was impressed by her healthcare policy chops.

Quan, noting California’s Asian-Americans overwhelmingly voted for Clinton over Obama, said many of her Asian-American constituents urged her to become a delegate, and she hopes to use her experience in elected office to help mend the party’s rifts this August in Denver.

“There are going to be disappointed people one way or the other,” she said. “Healing and uniting the party is really key.”

Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Robin Torello, 51, of San Leandro was elected as a Clinton delegate for Rep. Pete Stark’s 13th Congressional District. She was a Kerry delegate at 2004’s Democratic National Convention in Boston, and said this year’s race is inspiring much more grassroots involvement and awareness.

“This is going to be an historical convention no matter which way it goes’’ with either an African-American or a woman as the Democratic nominee, “so to be a part of history is pretty exciting,” she said, noting that hundreds of people came out Sunday to pick delegates from a broad cross-section of her district’s Democrats. “All in all it’s a good year to be a Democrat and it’s a bad year to be John McCain – at least in the Bay Area.”

Antonette Shellen, 65, of Fremont said she was “still flying high” Monday, a day after being elected Sunday as an Obama delegate from Rep. Pete Stark’s 13th Congressional District. A retired teacher, Oakland native and peace activist who chairs the Tri-Cities Democratic Forum, Shellen said she promised herself while volunteering for John Kerry in 2004 that she would find a way to make it to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

“I’m extremely excited about Obama,” she said. “I’m so ready for change, and I think the change he’s talking about is the kind of change we need. … I think that he’s going to remember the Constitution that we have gotten so far away from.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.