More Than Obama Watching at State of the Union Party
Democrats got together to discuss issues and to talk about an upcoming City Council race.
GERMANTOWN — On Tuesday night, the House of Jin on West Chelten Avenue was mostly a place for people to see President Obama lay out his priorities for the country in the company of fellow Democrats.
But the event, put on by the Organizing For America and Neighborhood Networks (both Democratic organizations), wasn't just a State of the Union address viewing party. It was an opportunity for candidates running for the 8th District City Council seat to meet potential voters.
It was also a forum for discussion surrounding the race. Neighborhood Networks was looking for undecided voters to serve on a committee that would help interview candidates running for the seat. At some point, the organization will make an endorsement that is in part based on that interview.
The race's significance wasn't lost on the people at the viewing. Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, who has been in the seat since 1996, has announced she will not run for another term. Cindy Bass, Greg Paulmier, Jordan Dillard and Verna Tyner have all said they're running for the seat. (Information on the candidates is available here.)
Bass, Dillard and Paulmier were at the viewing party.
"If we get organized, we can have a big effect on who gets elected to the next City Council," Neighborhood Networks member Stan Shapiro said.
Obama's speech itself provoked a variety of reactions from the 40 or so people in attendance.
Many clapped loudly when the president proposed to reduce the amount of money the United States gives to oil companies. Others laughed when Senator John McCain clapped on screen after the president said he would veto bills that contained earmarks, and many nodded when Obama talked about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering after being shot in the head in Arizona earlier in the month.
"I think we have a lot to look forward to, with the proper cooperation," Darlene Roberson said afterward.
As Roberson watched, she nodded at much of what Obama had to say. Others did too, but said the president could have done a better job talking about what the U.S. has to do to keep pace with countries like China and India.
The atmosphere in the Capitol took on a very bipartisan feel, as Democrats and Republicans sat with one another—a break from what they usually do.
Conni Bille, who helped organize the event, said the Giffords shooting had brought many together.
"That made all the dynamics," she said.
Others were optimistic after the president finished talking.
"I think we'll just step on in the future with him. I'm going to continue to volunteer and keep organizing ... and (help others) have that American dream," Joyce Woods said.