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Hand off to convention
Local woman a delegate at next week's gathering of Democrats
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Forsyth County News

When the Democratic National Convention kicks off Monday in Denver, Beth Hand will be in the middle of the action.

As one of three delegates representing Democrats in the 15-county, 9th Congressional District, the Forsyth County resident will cast her vote representing half of the district's Hillary Clinton supporters.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama received more than 66 percent of the state's total vote in the February primary, but fell to Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin in District 9.

Hand, along with Gainesville attorney Joe Diaz will represent Clinton's 9th District votes. Lauren Bell, also of Gainesville, will represent the district's votes for Obama.

The three will travel separately to Denver, said Hand, who leaves Friday for the convention.

"I'm just excited to exercise my vote as a pledged Hillary delegate at the convention," she said.

"I'm supposed to represent the voters of this district, and I guess I'll do what they elected me to do and what the law says I have to do."

Though she will start by voting for Hillary, Obama is expected to gain not only the state, but the country's Democratic pledge. At that point, Hand said she will stand behind Obama.

"At the end of the day, I believe the Democratic platform and the Democratic Party is what is right for the country, and what's right for my family, so I'm going to vote Democratic no matter what happens this fall," she said.

According to party information, more than 21,000 volunteers have signed up for the convention, and about 17,000 hotel rooms have been booked for convention week.

Hand will be one of more than 4,400 delegates in attendance.

Though this will be her first experience as a delegate, it's not Hand's first convention.

"In 1992, I attended the convention in New York," she said. "Zell Miller was a keynote speaker in 1992, so that's certainly going to be different.

"But this whole election cycle has been historical and so I think that's going to be the huge difference. I think the energy will be much different and more exciting, because it's new territory for everyone involved. That's what is exciting for me and exciting for the country."

When she attended the convention 16 years ago, she could only watch as an observer. This time, though, Hand will be "in the middle of things."

"I think it's going to be exciting to be in the mix, to have a voice and have a say."

Hand wasn't selected to represent Clinton's local delegates by fluke. She has been volunteering for the candidate since June 2007, becoming the 9th Congressional District captain for the Clinton campaign in December.

Only a couple of votes prevented Forsyth County resident Marie Anderson from becoming Obama's delegate for the district over Bell.

Anderson, Forsyth County Democratic Party chairwoman, said she's just amazed Forsyth, a conservative stronghold, has one representative.

"Of all the counties in the 9th district, we only had three seats at the convention. And to have someone from Forsyth is really fantastic," she said. "We are a united front."

Hand said she looks forward to hearing all the convention speeches and also learning the vice presidential pick.

"I just hope we show a united front and I hope that everybody shows they are unified and fired up and excited toward a win in November," she said.