Davis County Democrat soaks in the Charlotte convention

Sep 5 2012 - 8:24pm

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(Courtesy photo) Kathleen Villanueva, 22, stands above the Utah delegation as Senator Barbara Mikulski addresses the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C.
(Courtesy photo) Kathleen Villanueva, 22, stands above the Utah delegation as Senator Barbara Mikulski addresses the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C.

OGDEN -- Kathleen Villanueva, of Syracuse, isn't the only Democrat living in Davis County.

But as far as she knows, the 22-year-old may very well be the only Democrat from Davis County attending the Democratic National Convention at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C.

"I am absolutely blown away. It has been such an incredible experience," Villanueva told the Standard-Examiner in a Wednesday phone interview.

Villanueva said this is the first national convention she has attended.

The convention, which began Tuesday and featured first lady Michelle Obama addressing the crowd that evening, continues through today, when President Barack Obama is scheduled to address the delegates.

During the first day of the convention, Villanueva said, she had to fight back the tears as the first lady shared during her speech some personal insight into her and her husband's life.

"I was such a mess," said Villanueva. "I felt like everything she was saying was really genuine."

Based on the impact the first lady's speech had on her, Villanueva said, she questions whether President Obama is going to be able to provide a better speech to the delegates tonight.

Villanueva said that, in addition to looking forward to hearing from President Obama, she is also looking forward to hearing from Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., who is one of her heroes.

Convention speakers who have already impressed her are Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker and San Antonio, Texas, Mayor Julian Castro.

But Villanueva hasn't always been a Democrat.

Growing up in Davis County and being a conservative Catholic, opposing abortion and same sex marriages, she leaned Republican, often arguing with her father, a longtime Democrat.

But upon attending the University of Utah, receiving bachelor of science degrees in political science and economics -- an education that made her more tolerant of others -- and watching the Obama administration inherit the economic mess of a prior presidency, Villanueva said, she began flying a different political flag.

That change included her taking a major role with the Peter Cooke for Governor campaign, she said.

Cooke is the Democrat challenging Republican Gov. Gary R. Herbert in the Nov. 6 general election.

"I just have more hope with Obama's leadership," Villanueva said.

"Growing up in Utah, it is easy to be a Republican because everyone else is," Villanueva said, believing that being a Democrat may not make her popular in Utah.

But being a Democrat has made things more peaceful at home, where she is no longer arguing politics with her much more knowledgeable father, with whom she lives, she said.

"I think that also had a huge impact on me," Villanueva said of her father's role in her determining what political party she would belong to. "My dad and I would argue all the time."

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