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Area campaigners and students attending Obama’s inauguration

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A chance to be part of history is luring several Auburn-area residents to Washington, D.C.’s inaugural celebration. Larry Du Bois, chairman of the Democratic Party in Placer County, will have a seat and be fairly close to the actual inauguration after getting tickets as one of 55 electoral college voters from California. At age 52, viewing the inauguration Tuesday in person will be a first for Du Bois. Initially, Du Bois wasn’t planning to go, despite the offer of tickets. But his wife, Karen, insisted that the two attend and Du Bois agreed. “My wife said it was a chance of a lifetime,” he said. Du Bois has since warmed to the idea of something he feels he can pass down as a point of pride to children and grandchildren through photos and souvenirs. “Barack Obama’s inauguration is about making a change and we’re going to be part of that,” he said. Christa Darlington, an Auburn attorney and early Obama supporter, will also be in Washington, D.C. for inaugural festivities. Darlington helped organize the initial effort backing Obama in Placer County with small, local meetings. She would eventually represent California as a delegate at the history-making Democratic Party convention. Newcastle resident Arry Murphey-Frank, a small business owner in Rocklin, will be another Democratic leader from the area attending the inauguration. She worked on the Obama campaign as a precinct captain during primaries and as an area manager during the general election, as well as traveling to three other states to volunteer with the winning campaign. Murphey-Frank said that she’s unsure whether she’ll be standing or sitting but doesn’t care. “I’ll just be happy to be there,” she said. Murphey-Frank expects to see Obama and his wife, Michelle, take their first turn on a dance floor as President and First Lady on Tuesday at the Neighborhood Ball she’ll be attending. In all, 15 Obama campaign workers from the Auburn area are in Washington for the inauguration. As well, several students have made the trip. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” 14-year-old Kendall Odom said. “It’s pretty amazing.” The Placer High School freshman is slotted in for a place in the public viewing area for the actual inauguration Tuesday morning as well as the parade. She’ll be at a conference in Washington D.C. for alumni of the National Young Leaders organization’s recent conference in San Jose. Placer High sophomore Nick Mitchell will also be attending the conference and inauguration, Odom said. Jennifer Harley, a 17-year-old senior at Foresthill High School, said she’s going for the history of the occasion. Harley is also part of the 7,000-student National Young Leaders assemblage based out of quarters at the University of Maryland. To pay for the trip to Washington, which Harley estimates at just more than $3,400, she ran a food booth at the local Snowy Peaks Christmas Tree Farm and collected recyclables. Harley said she was particularly heartened when the local Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations stepped up with $500 donations. Like Odom, Harley described the inaugural as an opportunity of a lifetime. “Everyone is asking me for pictures and they’re all super proud,” she said. Too young to vote by a year, Harley admitted that while she was a John McCain supporter she’s still looking forward to a chance to see history in the making. “I wish it was McCain but I’m still going to be there,” she said. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at Auburnjournal.com