When Pres. Barack Obama's public inauguration as the 44th President of the United States takes place at noon on Monday, West Hartford resident Jason Jakubowski will be observing from the audience.
"It's an actual seat, toward the front of the stage," Jakubowski said.
He earned the privilege of a reserved seat because he also served as one of only seven Connecticut residents to officially vote for president and vice president in 2012. All seven electors, who cast their votes in a ceremony presided over by Secretary of State Denise Merrill on Dec. 17, 2012, were invited to attend the inauguration ceremony.
Jakubowski, who works as Vice President of Government Relations at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, and is also an adjunct professor at several local colleges, is excited about his participation in the election's historical events.
"The only thing I'm not looking forward to is the cold, but that's all part of the experience," he said.
"This is my first time attending the inauguration, but I've seen them all on TV," he said. Because the West Hartford resident has a busy life with work and has five children under age 9 (including two sets of twins), he'll just be flying in and out of Washington, rather than staying for any inaugural balls or other festivities. "I'd love to dust the tux off, but ... maybe some other time," he said.
Jakubowski has been active in the Connecticut Democratic party for "as far back as I can remember." Although he lives in West Hartford now, he grew up in New Britain and served for several years as an alderman and as City Treasurer.
Connecticut gets seven electors, Jakubowski explained, because the state has two senators and five representatives. The individuals are chosen by state party leaders and are a diverse group from all over the state, he said. Jakubowski is the only elector from West Hartford.
Attending the inauguration may be the icing on the cake, but Jakubowski revelled in the role of an elector as well. "The neat thing for me was that I was able to participate in a process that has happened every four years since the beginning of our country. A lot has changed, but this has stayed the same," he said.
The official electoral process was very ceremonial, with each elector signing a certificate which was sealed with wax before being sent to Washington, D.C. The same ballot box has been in use for centuries. "Legend has it that the ballot box was made out of the original 'Charter Oak' wood," he said.
As someone who has spent years studying and teaching American government, Jakubowski is thrilled to be an official participant in this election process.
"It's a bipartisan event, something that we as Americans celebrate every four years ... I'm excited about it, as a guy who loves politics and history. This isn't just politics; it's part of history."
However, although he is attending the public and celebratory swearing in ceremony on Monday, Jakubowski pointed out that since Inauguration Day is technically on Jan. 20, Pres. Obama will take the official oath on Sunday in a private ceremony.
"That's the protocol for when Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday," Jakubowski said. The last time it happened was Pres. Ronald Reagan's second inauguration in 1985, and this year is only the seventh time in history.