A local delegate from the Newtown-Yardley area will represent the 8th Congressional district at the 46th Democratic National Convention this week.
Democratic Delegate Robin Wiessmann, who served as Treasurer of Pennsylvania from 2007 to 2009, has been to every convention since 1984.
“I’ve seen a lot of winners and losers,” she said. “I think it’s three or four times, the most recent ones, I’ve been a delegate.”
To become a delegate, Wiessmann said eligible people need to acquire about 150 signatures on a petition to be on the ballot. She said it is recommended to double that number in case names are thrown out.
“Once you petition, like any other election, you get put on the slate, get put on the ballot and then you would get elected at the primary,” Wiessmann said.
An estimated 5,000 pledged delegates, which represent all 50 states, District Capital and Territories are attending the convention, according to a Democratic Convention website. The added bonus and Superdelegates brings the total to about 6,000 people.
There are two types of delegates, pledged and unpledged, or Superdelegates. Pledged delegates, who align themselves with a specific candidate, are elected, whereas Superdelegates receive an automatic delegate seat based upon their current or former status as party leaders or elected officials. Bonus delegates are awarded for primaries and caucuses in some states.
“This year with Obama… he’s the presumptive nominee,” Wiessmann said. “So I would say that everybody who ran really was pledged to Obama... And I think [there are] certain times the state political party or the candidates’ political party try to influence those people who can get on the ballot. But technically anybody can run.”
Wiessmann believes her presence, along with the other thousands of delegates and Democratic supporters, is important to the success of the convention.
“I think having thoughtful people, people who care about it, people who are willing to work for what they care about, I think everybody’s impact is felt,” she said. “Just seeing people on TV, [you] get a sense of that particular party and what the nominees are all about. I think we all play a role.”
She thinks that people may not perceive the importance of holding conventions, that they are considered “big political parties” and that their necessity is debatable. However, she sees it as an opportunity for party officials and supporters to gather together to build the momentum and spirit in the months leading up to the general election.
“I do think it’s an important convergence of a lot of influential and rank and file, interested citizens and people who are interested in the party platform,” Wiessmann said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the energy develop; you know that coalescence of that energy for the final months of the campaign.”
In order to combat feelings of party disenchantment locally, Wiessmann feels that active leaders in communities are of the utmost importance.
“I think it’s really important to have engaged civic leaders and political leaders and people who are continually striving to improve the lives of people, “she said.
In order to improve the lives of Newtown and other Bucks County residents, Wiessmann said the president needs to know the issues that the voters find most important.
“I think people in Bucks County care, a lot of people care about the economy but they really want President Obama to focus on building a good economy not just short term solutions,” Wiessmann said. “He needs to know that investments in our economy, long term changes in the economy, also investments infrastructure and quality of life issues are all equal and all very important to people in Bucks County.”
Wiessmann said these investments are not a quick fix.
“People need to have a longer term perspective, something that’s developing over some period of time,” she said. “To think that everything would be resolved in three and a half years is naïve. So for anybody in either party to say “let’s flip the switch” and we’ll fix it, that’s just not realistic.”
She trusts President Obama’s judgment in his leadership and decision making.
“He’s a really civilized, enlightened individual” Wiessmann said. “He’s very thoughtful and I have confidence in his intelligence. And that goes a long way for decision making. That’s really important. You may like something he does, you may not. But I have confidence overall in his decision making.”
She feels that Obama and the Democratic Party holds true to its values, which will be the driving force behind the country as it moves forward.
“Our country is so different now for all sorts of reasons,” she said. “We have to embrace the future now as opposed to looking at what we may have thought worked before. All of those things really require continually renewing the effort and continually renewing the energy.”
As a Democratic figure in Bucks County, she works to bring that effort and energy to the home front. While challenging at times, ultimately she finds her work rewarding.
“I think it’s important, I think it’s significant, and I think it’s very gratifying. There are a lot of challenges too, but I think it’s very gratifying.”
The Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte, SC from Monday, Sept. 3 to Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012.