|Del. David Bulova and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi share a moment at the FDR Dinner|
It was a packed ballroom Sunday night as local Democrats turned out for an elegant evening at the McLean Hilton in Tysons Corner. The main attraction was congressional Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who headlined the first annual Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt Dinner, formerly called the Jefferson Jackson Dinner.
Nearly 500 people attended the gala, said Frank Anderson, executive director of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC), which hosted the event.
“I have been to 20 of these fundraisers,” remarked Rose Chu, treasurer of the Mason District Democratic Committee. “And this one was the best!” Chu was inspired by Pelosi’s words. “It shows that FCDC has some clout to be able to get her as our keynote speaker.”
The sold-out event netted nearly $200,000, according to FCDC chairman Cesar del Aguila. “This is the most money we’ve raised for a single event in the history of FCDC,” del Aguila divulged. He noted that another fundraiser is in the works before the presidential election but that one will be less formal and more affordable.
”I was invited to the White House for Cinco de Mayo. I didn’t have the heart to tell the president I’m not Mexican,” Del Aguila quipped in his opening remarks.
Continuing on a more serious note, the chairman promised: “Democrats stand for protecting families from financial abuse, for improving education. These are our values. That’s what the Fairfax County Democratic Committee is all about. Moving this country forward. We will go door to door, block by block, to re-elect President Barack Obama!”
Congressman Gerry Connolly, representing the 11th district, which includes most of Annandale, echoed that theme. He told the overflow crowd, “we are turning Virginia purple.”
But the big draw of the night was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.). She urged the audience to reignite the American dream, stating “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Pelosi went on to quote an African bishop: “When I stand at last before the face of God, God will say to me, ‘show me your wounds.’ And I will say, ‘I have no wounds.’ And God will ask, ‘Was nothing worth fighting for?’ ”
Pelosi reflected on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. “It’s not just about programs. It’s about entrepreneurships and accepting new ideas.” She continued, “The voices of people decide elections, not bank accounts,” a subtle jab at Mitt Romney’s wealthy donors. “We need to elect more women to public office,” she reminded the gathering. Pelosi also expressed her disappointment at the stalemate over the Metrorail Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport. “We have to win, baby,” she finished, to thunderous applause.
The festive event was studded with political stars, including Rep. Jim Moran, state Sen. David Marsden, Del. Vivian Watts, likely gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, congressional candidate Kristin Cabral, Soil and Water Conservation Director George Lamb, and several Fairfax County school board members.
The great granddaughter of FDR, Anna Eleanor Fierst, also addressed the large group. “Let us move forward with a strong and active faith,” she declared.
Annandale resident Sean Barnett noted that Pelosi was a “great, great choice. Her remarks were right on for our county and our party.” Barnett, a defense analyst for a nonprofit think tank, added, “The folks who organized the dinner did a great job selecting Nancy Pelosi and inviting her to come.” He said, “It is wonderful that FCDC recognized the contributions of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. FDR is one of our greatest Democratic presidents, if not the greatest.”
Several awards were handed out during the dinner program. Ryan McElveen, a newcomer to the Fairfax County School Board and its youngest member, garnered the Young Leader Award. Providence nabbed the District of the Year Award. The 2012 Member of the Year Award went to Barbara Caputo, who lost her bid for FCDC chairperson in January. Tina Hone, who chose not to seek re-election to the school board this year, received the Community Service Award, and Susan Johnson was named Volunteer of the Year.
del Aguila was still beaming four days after the event. He marveled that the dinner turned into a standing room-only event. “There were a lot of last minute reservations. Quite a few people gave up their seats to accommodate the late registrations. It is the political commitment of our committee to really support our volunteers and our elected officials.” Del Aguila laughed that he gave up his seat too, and “nibbled his dinner here and there.”
|Left to right: Mason residents Rose Chu, Sue Clark, and Karen Bopp at the FDR Dinner.|