Danville resident Jerome Pandell will be in Charlotte this week as a delegate pledged to support President Barack Obama's re-election on behalf of voters California's 11th Congressional District.
An attorney at a Walnut Creek-based law firm representing construction professionals and small businesses, Pandell graduated from U.C. Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco) in 2008 and Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) in 2005.
An avid follower of politics, Jerome met President Obama back in 2003, when Obama was just a skinny state senator with a funny name making a long-shot run for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois.
Jerome serves in various volunteer capacities for political campaigns -- as a volunteer fundraiser for President Obama's re-election campaigns and as a volunteer lawyer with Obama for America (2008 and 2012), the California Democratic Party (2010 and 2008) and Jerry McNerney for Congress (2010 and 2008).
Jerome previously served as a staff writer at the Tri-Valley Herald and as managing editor of his college newspaper, The Daily Northwestern. You can follow him on Twitter @JeromePandell.
1. What do you hope to gain while attending the convention?
For one, I've never been to North Carolina, so I'm excited to see Charlotte and, if there's time, some of the surrounding areas.
I also look forward to convivial fellowship with my fellow delegates, meeting national leaders from all over the country, and, most importantly, helping send a clear message across the country through this convention and to voters in swing states like North Carolina that President Barack Obama overwhelmingly deserves re-election. A friend of mine's a regional field director for President Obama's re-election campaign in North Carolina, and I hope to visit with him and assist with some voter registration and precinct-walking as well.
2. What inspired you to be a delegate? Have you done it before?
President Obama inspired me to run for election as a delegate this year.
I've been very involved with Obama for America since early 2011 — helping to sell tickets to fundraisers across the country, spreading the word online and via Facebook and Twitter, and organizing lawyers to travel to swing states to help with voter registration and voter protection to ensure every eligible voter can cast a ballot.
I've never served as a delegate, but I traveled to Denver for the 2008 Democratic National Convention after I sat for the bar exam and, as a convention volunteer, attended Hillary Clinton's nominating speech to delegates as well as President Obama's acceptance of the nomination at the Denver Broncos stadium.
Denver in '08 truly represented a once-in-a-lifetime event — the energy and the excitement permeated everything, as a new generation of voters became engaged in politics thanks to the magnetism of President Obama's candidacy. I also made lifelong friends in Denver, and I expect that will occur again this year in Charlotte.
Also, my grandmother served as a "Golden Girl" for John F. Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. When she passed away in December of last year, she passed down to me some of her memorabilia from her involvement in politics. If I would dedicate my election and service as a delegate to one person, it would be my "Grandmama" — Frances Curran.
3. How important do you think is this year’s presidential election? Why do you think people should vote for President Obama?
Americans have a real choice in this election — moving forward toward a bright future with a renewed, stronger economy buttressed by a thriving middle class presided over by President Obama, or a backwards return to the same policies and ideologies that drove the nation into the Great Recession as well as a war began under false pretenses.
Making the right choice — re-electing President Obama and Vice President Biden as well as members of Congress for whom compromise isn't a dirty word — doesn't make this election necessarily the most important election ever.
However, the sharpness of the difference between President Obama's optimistic vision and the austere vision espoused by Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan perhaps makes this election one that offers the greatest divergence between the paths on which each candidate would lead our country.
In my not-so-humble opinion, President Obama deserves re-election because his decision making abilities while serving in office show a thoughtful, clear consideration of facts that leads to — on balance — excellent results for the American people.
Look at the then-derided auto bailout — if Governor Romney had his way and let Detroit go bankrupt, then the almost 1.5-million jobs saved and/or created in Michigan, Ohio and throughout the Midwest would've vanished.
Look at the mission to bring Osama bin Laden to justice — critics called this policy of pursuing bin Laden in Pakistan "naive" when President Obama proposed it in 2008.
Look at healthcare reform — seniors receive free well-patient visits, pay less for prescription drugs, and kids can stay on their parent's insurance until age 26, and no one will be turned way from purchasing insurance due to a preexisting condition.
Look at the awe-inspiring stimulus act — Danville, San Ramon and residents will see the direct benefits of that when the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel opens, and hundreds of thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs now exist thanks to those dollars.
As for the economy, I recognize the recovery has been slower than anyone would prefer. However, a friend of mine from high school who grew up a moderate Republican and now works for a growing, mid-sized business explained it to me this: "Bottom line is that President Obama's initiatives have led to double digit growth for my business as well as created manufacturing jobs."
That's a pretty damn fine record.
4. In 2008, were you an Obama supporter from the start or did you originally want to see Hillary Clinton be the party's nominee for president? How did Obama win you over? How would you grade Obama’s first term in office?
My family's full of folks who originally supported now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — I was something of a loan backer of President Obama, even among friends as well.
What really began that support was my exposure to President Obama before anyone knew who he was -- I attended his victory party when he became the nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2004; I remember when he couldn't get an almost-empty lecture hall of voters interested in what he had to say, and now he commands the attention of millions with words just as powerful as those he spoke then.
I'd give President Obama an A-minus in his first term — one area where I'd like to see improvement when he's re-elected to a second term is filling vacant judgeships in the federal courts. From a strictly nonpartisan perspective, the president has a constitutional duty to appoint judges with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate -- yet even nominees previously nominated to positions and judgeships by Republican presidents and governors can't receive an up-or-down vote due to Republican obstruction.
That's justice denied -- not to President Obama, but to the litigants who use our overburdened federal courts.
5. On a scale of 1-10, how crazy are the delegate parties at the convention? Do you have any good stories?
On a scale of 1-10, the delegate parties will be a 12. That said, I don't think they will be that crazy — us Democrats hold our conventions in swing states because we want to reach out to undecided voters and put on our best presentation of our beliefs, ideals and vision for forward progress for the nation.
That means registering folks to vote and, even while we "party in Charlotte," making phone calls to swing states and learning from our fellow delegates from Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona how we can help them re-elect President Obama.
Do you believe Pandell is correct and President Barack Obama deserves a second term? Explain why or why not in the comments section.
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