Summit County delegates prepare for Democratic National Convention
July 22, 2016
When Sheila Raboy, a Trailside resident, travels to Philadelphia next month as one of eight delegates from Utah who are committed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she will not only be representing Summit County, but the entire Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community.
Raboy, who is the former operations director the Utah Pride Center, will serve as the co-administrator for all of the delegates from the LGBT community who are attending the convention. She said more than 400 openly-identified delegates are expected to attend.
"My role has really morphed into this other thing because I'm not just going as a delegate, I'm giving national representation to the LGBT people nationwide," Raboy said. "Everyone thinks (Utahns) we all look like Mike Lee, but this will give a different social picture of us to the rest of the world. Utah is not just the Mormon church or anti-Planned Parenthood."
Raboy is one of two Democratic delegates selected from Summit County to represent Congressional District 1, which covers portions of Summit, Salt Lake, Weber, Cache and Uintah counties, among several others. Raboy is bound to support Clinton as a pledged delegate in the first vote and anticipates a second.
"I support Hillary. There is nothing more exciting for a woman who is a veteran to be able to vote for a woman president," said Raboy, who served in the Vietnam War. "Wouldn't that be great for the next generation of girls if you when you say, 'you can grow up and be anything you want to be' you actually see a woman in that president's position?
"But what I really want to do at the convention is bridge the difference between Hillary and Bernie (Sanders) because I see it as so small, though some see it as larger," she said.
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This year, Raboy said the Democratic policies are more inclusive of the LGBT community. Raboy said it was her own shotgun wedding that highlighted the uncertainty she and others face when it comes to basic civil rights.
"Here we are and have been together for 13 years, have two children together and I didn't even have the rights of a step parent," Raboy said. "There are a whole of rights that I realized could be easily taken away. My agenda in going is to basically promote civil rights. And with respect to LGBT rights, this is the most progressive they have been."
For Raboy, the conversations at the convention should be more focused on the issues rather than the candidates, adding that "as far as I am concerned the candidate is the hood ornament for the platform."
"The bottom line is that it doesn't matter to me as long as the platform is reflective of maintaining and increasing my human rights," Raboy said. "Once you take the candidate out of the mix the issues and how to be affective in those issues become the clear focus.
"However, to be able to vote for a woman to be president is monumental," she said.
'I'm absolutely a pledge Bernie delegate'
Like Raboy, Cheryl Butler, who lives in Promontory, is attending a national convention for the first time. Butler said she is "absolutely a pledged Bernie delegate."
"When I hear Bernie talk, I hear what I see as the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, which is absolute compassion for fellow Americans and protection for the environment," Butler said.
Some of the issues that are expected to be addressed at the convention are environmental concerns, civil rights issues and healthcare.
"There are a few issues when I was running to be a delegate that came up from Congressional District 1 and that's why I am going to be their voice," Butler said. "One was the environment and the other was issues around equity in economics, closely followed by education and healthcare."
Butler said she anticipates a strong contingent of supporters for the United States Senator "who will exercise their rights and responsibility to show that he represents a huge block of Americans." However, Butler said she also expects a large group of attendees to attempt to unify the party.
"In general most of the delegates view this as a huge opportunity to organize, learn and to communicate with each other," Butler said. "I think that is really our role right now, particularly the Bernie supporters, to carry this whole movement forward. We need to be transforming the statehouse and the national leadership and we can't do that unless we are really out there communicating."
Butler was originally appointed as a delegate for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. When asked if she would support Clinton, Butler said she will remain a pledged Sanders delegate until he officially concedes.
"If it comes to November and we are down to a Donald Trump and Hillary option, you can ask that question again," Butler said. "But it would be very difficult for me to vote for Trump."
Glenn Wright, Summit County Democratic Party chair who attended the Democratic Convention in 2012, said he anticipates a significantly different atmosphere in Philadelphia than what is being displayed in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention.
"I think you will also see a more balanced view of the Black Lives Matter movement and the police departments, in addition to a strong denunciation of the violence we have seen in recent weeks," Wright said. "I think the atmosphere will be dramatically different from what I witnessed on TV with the RNC and I think it will be much more positive.
"They'll certainly pick on Donald a little bit, but I don't think it will be like at the RNC where every other word is anti-Hillary," he said. "I think we will see a very positive view of where America is going."