Much of the world media is focused on Charlotte this week as the Democratic National Convention kicks off in the Queen City today.
As a North Carolina delegate, Laurinburg native Joy Ellison will have a bird’s-eye view of all the proceedings.
Ellison said she is elated about having the president and Democratic Party leaders in her home state, but even more excited being a part of history.
The event is the first nominating convention of a major party ever held in North Carolina.
“I’ve always been interested in politics and to have an event this close and to be able take part is great,” Ellison said. “For me, this is like the super bowl.”
Ellison arrived in Charlotte on Sunday in time to attend a welcoming party at the NASCAR Hall of Fame where Mayors Anthony Foxx of Charlotte and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke.
On Monday,Ellison, a former county Democratic Party chair, attended a number of caucus meetings and listened speakers including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and political analyst Donna Brazile.
Ellison said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chair of the Democratic National Convention, also welcomed her and fellow delegates from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia, by telling them, “We’re going to put North Carolina in the win column for Barack Obama once again.”
The convention officially begins today.
“So far what I’ve heard has been inspiring and uplifting,” Ellison said. “I’m looking forward to what the president and the party has to say.”
Ellison, a former Laurinburg city councilwoman, is one of 157 delegates from North Carolina. She is representing Scotland as well as Richmond, Hoke, Anson, Union Stanley and parts of Cumberland and Mecklenburg counties.
About 35,000 delegates and visitors are expected to descend on Charlotte this week with a total of 65,000 expected to be on hand Thursday to see President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. The convention could generate as much as $150 million, officials have estimated.
Security throughout Charlotte is expected to be tight. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will double its 1,760 officers by bringing in law enforcement from other cities to help with security during the convention. Several hundred members of the state’s National Guard will also support the security effort.
“You can move around the city somewhat right now,” Ellison said on her first day. “But I expect that will change as more and more security people are arriving.”
Ellison said she has been impressed with what convention organizers have done and expects other visitors will be too.
“There is a real feeling of warmth here in Charlotte,” she said, “On almost every block there is a band playing and people welcome you with a smile and friendly hello. Visitors are going to captivated by North Carolina’s warmth and hospitality.”