BEVERLY HILLS PEOPLE
A Q&A Chat with folks in our city!
JENNIFER HODGESBy: Jamie Nemiroff – Courier Staff Writer
Beverly Hills resident Jennifer Hodges is an active Democrat working in support of Senator John Kerry for President. As a result of her political fortitude, she will be heading for Boston next week as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention.
Courier: First, some biographical facts? Where were you born? Where did you go to school? What is your profession?
Hodges: I was born and raised in New York City and graduated from Harvard with a degree in East Asian Studies with a focus on China. I work at Disney in communications.
Courier: What inspired you to be a delegate for the Democratic Party? Have you been a delegate in the past?
Hodges: I have never been a delegate and, in fact, didn’t understand what a delegate does or how to become one. Then, I was asked by the campaign to be one of the six California Delegate Steering Committee members. It was through working to set up the caucuses that I became familiar with the process and was inspired to represent John Kerry at the Convention.
Courier: What is your background with the Democratic Party?
Hodges: I have no background with the Democratic party. I have, however, been involved with a Democratic organization—The Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist organization.
Courier: What criteria did you meet to become a delegate?
Hodges: First, I had to register as a Democrat. I had to live in the congressional district I wanted to represent, the 30th. Then, I won enough votes in my district and was the top female vote winner, with 91 votes.
Courier. What are your formal responsibilities at the Convention? How are those responsibilities different from the ones perceived by the public?
Hodges: As a delegate my responsibility is to formally nominate the Democratic candidate for President. I don’t think the public really understands the definition and responsibility of a delegate. I certainly didn’t. Informal responsibilities include contributing to the festive atmosphere in which the nominee and his running mate will introduce themselves to the country; to be supportive and demonstrative of our support and to take part in articulating for the world who John Kerry is, what he stands for, and how he is the right man to be President.
Courier: What would you tell people who want to be politically active, either with the Democratic Party or any other political organization?
Hodges: Not only is it fun to get involved to change your neighborhood and the world, it is an important responsibility of any citizen. Take baby steps and go to an open city council meeting to learn about the people representing you in your neighborhood. Or take a leap of faith, like I did, and jump into a national organization to contribute in a different way,
Courier: Can you recall one or even many experiences that people might not expect that would occur on the floor?
Hodges: I crashed the 2000 convention in Los Angeles and just being able to do that, get on the floor and stand with the California delegates, was something I didn’t expect would ever happen. This time, I have been tapped as a “whip” and will be part traffic cop, part mom, part cheerleader for our delegation. I’m sure some interesting things will come of that experience.
Courier. I understand you will be voting for Senator John Kerry. However, the way the voting process at the convention is structured, some proportion of the California delegation will vote for Senator John Edwards. What determines which section of the delegation votes for what candidate? Is it determined by area or popular vote?
Hodges: We have pledged our support for one candidate, but if that candidate negotiates to throw his or her delegates behind another candidate, we are then all pledged to the new candidate. In the old days, when nominees weren’t a sure thing until the convention, party bosses and candidates would sit in smoke-filled rooms wheeling and dealing their candidates like poker chips. “I’ll give you my candidate’s delegates if you make him Treasury Secretary,” etc. That doesn’t happen anymore because we know the front runner by Super Tuesday. However, I’m sure John Edwards will throw his delegates behind John Kerry, for obvious reasons. Everyone in that convention hall will have the candidate they pledged to on the ticket. So even though Edwards’ delegates will be voting for Kerry, they are delighted to do so. This will lead to an unusually festive and supportive atmosphere.
Courier: What are you looking forward to most about the convention experience?
Hodges: Meeting people I’ve supported for a while because of their positions. Now I will be able to support them as people as well. Like meeting Ted Kennedy, legendary firebrand that he is.
© 2001 Beverly Hills Courier. All Rights Reserved.
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