Democratic Convention in Denver: From Dream to Reality

      Dr. Martin Luther King’s words spoken over 40 years ago inspired Elbra Wedgeworth to believe in her aspirations and never give up. She carried Dr. King’s vision throughout her career and public service, and it recently helped the former Denver City Councilwoman to accomplish her biggest dream yet: to bring the Democratic National Convention to Denver.“I am a legacy of Dr. King,” Wedgeworth explained during a Dr. Martin Luther King celebration hosted by the Garfield County Democratic Party in Glenwood Springs on Monday. “All through my life, I’ve been stirred to action.”

    Wedgeworth had to overcome adversity in her childhood. She was the youngest of six children growing up in a poor family in the Denver area.

    “People told me I wouldn’t have anything and wouldn’t do anything,” Wedgeworth said. “Dr. King taught me to believe in myself and motivate others.”

    Educated in sociology, Wedgeworth has spent over 15 years working for the City of Denver, first as a senior research analyst and eventually as the elected president of the Denver City Council. Now she is the Chief Government and Community Affairs officer at Denver Health.

    Wedgeworth started envisioning her biggest dream in 2005 when she thought Denver had the infrastructure to hold the Democratic National Convention. She quickly got Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, former mayor Wellington Webb and other Democratic officials interested. The effort soon crossed partisan lines.

    “If Denver could host the Pope, Denver could host the Democrats,” she laughed.

    Wedgeworth said she never lost sight of what Dr. King had inspired her to be – persistent. “I’m sure the Democratic National Committee thought, ‘Who is this woman?’ as I kept promoting Denver as the best place to hold the 2008 convention.”

    Denver was one out of 34 original cities that first vied for the convention. The list was whittled down to three last summer: Minneapolis, New York and Denver. “Our final bid weighed 15 pounds and included every little detail about Colorado,” Wedgeworth noted.

    PhotobucketWhen DNC chair Howard Dean announced that Denver had been selected to host the convention slated for Aug. 25-28, Wedgeworth admitted she cried in joy. Her dream was realized.

    Wedgeworth continues to head the Denver Host Committee which is raising funds from corporate sponsors to help pay for some of the convention costs.

    “Now, there are 17,000 rooms booked and 54 delegation parties reserved at local restaurants,” Wedgeworth said. “Denver will host 15,000 journalists, heads of corporations and all the Democratic leaders across the nation. It will be the largest convention in city’s history, generating over $160 million to $200 million in revenues.”

    “Plus, from Denver this summer,” Wedgeworth noted to the pleasure of the audience, “we will be selecting the next President of the United States.”

    Photos: On her first trip to the Western Slope to talk about the Democratic National Convention, Elbra Wedgeworth visits with Garfield County Democrats. By Leslie Robinson