Chevy Chase residents watching the Democratic National Convention this week may see a familiar face in the crowd of delegates — that of Jeffrey Slavin, mayor of the Town of Somerset and a well-known philanthropist in Montgomery County and the Washington, DC, area.
To be a delegate to the convention, hopefuls must apply and then be elected. After that, they must be approved by campaign headquarters, Slavin explained to Patch. He estimated that about 1,000 people had requested the opportunity to be a delegate, but only about 100 were selected.
Slavin figured that the party's reasons for selecting him were that he's a first-time delegate, he's in the Jewish caucus, he represents the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community and he is active in municipal government as well as in the Democratic Party. "That gave me a really good shot at it."
Before Slavin set off for the convention, Patch asked him a few more questions:
Patch: How do you think you can make an impact at the convention?
Slavin: I really want to, in particular, get involved with making sure that Jewish voters understand Barack Obama’s record on Israel and are not swayed by unfair or misleading campaign ads that the Romney campaign has begun. [Obama's] record [on Israel] is probably better than [that of] any other president in history, but that needs to be communicated.
Patch: What makes you proud of the Democratic Party?
Slavin: I think it’s really clear today the difference between the parties. The Democratic Party is made up of people interested in making the country the best country possible. ... [The Republicans] just want to hold on to power so that people of means can keep what they have. ... I think that our party is a much more inclusive party. ... The Republican Party ... has been co-opted by the tea party. There were some good ideas in the original Tea Party activities, but now it’s the home of the haters. ... [I'm] also appalled [that some Republicans are] unwilling to vote for a Mormon.
Patch: What are you looking forward to the most at the convention?
Slavin: I'm looking forward to the night that Barack Obama is re-nominated as president and to [hearing] him and the first lady speak. ... I'm also excited about [the] speech by Bill Clinton.
Patch: What would you want your neighbors to know about the convention?
Slavin: I think people have the misconception that it’s just a bunch of parties, but work is done. The groundwork is laid for the campaign. The speeches are very important [to help voters back home] understand what the message is. This is really a working convention. We get up early. ... There are parties, but I don’t have time [to attend them]—that’s not why I’m going. I'm missing a town council meeting for the first time to attend this.
Patch: Are we going to see you on TV in a funny hat?
Slavin: I probably will attire myself in something symbolic. ... [I'll also be] promoting the potential presidential candidacy of our governor. ... I want to do what I can to let the rest of the country know what a great governor we have. ... And [I'll be] promoting the gubernatorial candidacy of [Maryland Attorney General] Doug Gansler. [But,] everybody’s priority is electing Barack Obama for president.
"It's really an exciting time," Slavin added.