Delegates rally for Kerry at convention

By Greg Gelpi

Amidst fervor and political frenzy, Lois Baines Hunter fulfilled a lifelong dream along side her fellow Democrats last week.

Hunter and six other delegates from Henry and Clayton counties attended the Democratic National Convention in Boston, rubbing elbows with political and pop icons from the state and the nation.

"That was a childhood dream that I got to fulfill," said Hunter, a candidate for Clayton County Board of Education District 2. "It gave you a charge to come back and give people the same excitement."

With fiery speeches from Democratic nominee for president John Kerry, Democratic nominee for vice president John Edwards, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others, the Georgia delegation joined delegations from across the country in uniting to nominate and rally behind Kerry.

Hunter was joined by Democratic nominee for Clayton County Commission chairman Eldrin Bell, Regional Director for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Gail Davenport, local activist Jim Cherry, Andre Walker, Sukari Scott and Richard Ray of the AFL-CIO, the other delegates from Clayton and Henry counties.

Bell took the opportunity to mingle with Georgia congressmen and discuss issues of import to Clayton County, said Frank Bailey, Bell's campaign cochairman.

Bell spoke with them about the expansion of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Bailey said. The addition of a fifth runway has driven out many residents close to the airport, and their houses are not being purchased for fair market value.

"They can replace homes, but it leaves them with a lot of debt," Bailey said.

Bell also discussed an unfunded federal mandate to protect waterways from polluted runoff, he said.

"It was just mind boggling seeing all the people you see on TV and CSPAN," Hunter said.

From Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly to Andre 3000 of Outkast, the delegates were in the mix of the political realm, taking part in history.

"All the decision makers from across the country were there," Hunter said. "My name will always be written in the book of delegates. I've always wanted to be part of the process."

Continuing the tradition of collecting campaign buttons, Hunter brought back an assortment, including her favorite, which read "Leave No Child a Dime," a play on the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

She spent two days trying to find a button that read "When Clinton lied, no one died," the most popular button of the convention.