Self-described political junkie Tanisha Harris of Vancouver said she experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this week.
The proud Democrat and YWCA advocate was one of a handful of Clark County residents who attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte as a Washington state delegate. She said she heard moving speeches from first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Washington state Senator Patty Murray, to name a few.
"The coolest part so far, I would have to say, was hearing the first lady speak," Harris said by phone on Thursday morning. "She has grace and poise. … When you see it in person, it's very inspiring."
The Democratic Party made news this year by advocating for same-sex marriage rights in its platform for the first time. It's a hot topic in Washington state, given that voters will decide in November whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
Harris said marriage has been a topic of talk in many of the convention speeches.
"It was just very reaffirming to see everybody be so positive about it," Harris said, and to hear "all the speakers speak to being able to love who you want (and) to be able to serve openly in the military without fear."
Harris also said she enjoyed meeting with the Democratic women's caucus and the African American caucus. Speakers at the African American caucus included U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina and political analyst Donna Brazile.
Harris' great aunt, Jane Young, a longtime Clark County Democrat, helped inspire Harris' current love of politics. Harris serves as secretary of the 17th District Democrats and also works as a court-appointed special advocate for the YWCA in Clark County.
One important goal this election season will be to make sure everyone who came out to vote for Obama in 2008 does that again in 2012, she said.
"People are being reminded of all that has been accomplished and what we've done the last four years," Harris said. "We are the party of what America looks like and stands for."
Other delegates who attended the Democratic National Convention include Clark County residents Noland Hoshino, Liz Campbell and Robert Chu. Gene Finley of Woodland and Klickitat County resident Lorrie DeKay also attended the convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Thursday was not the first time Harris has heard President Barack Obama speak; she saw him speak at a Portland rally a few years ago. Reached by text messaging after the speech, she was ebullient.
"Our president showed that he is the president of the greatest country on earth," Harris wrote. "It was a true joy and honor to represent the 17th LD Democrats at the convention."
Will Harris be back at a future Democratic National Convention?
"I would love to come back as a delegate," she said, "but I want as many people as possible to experience what I experienced."