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West Hartford Mayor to Attend Democratic National Convention

Mayor Scott Slifka, a veteran of several Connecticut state conventions, will attend the national event for the first time and will write about his experiences on West Hartford Patch.

When the 2012 Democratic National Convention convenes on Tuesday, West Hartford's Mayor Scott Slifka will be in attendance as a delegate from Connecticut's first congressional district.

Slifka, who has attended and spoken at the Connecticut Democratic state convention several times, said he was honored to have the opportunity to attend the national event.

"I was an alternate delegate in 2008, but my wife was due the same week so I had to back out for all the right reasons," he said.

Several others from West Hartford, including Democratic Town Committee member Mark Salner, are also delegates but Slifka said the selection of delegates and alternates is actually a very complicated process. , a West Hartford resident, will also attend the convention, although not as a delegate.

Slifka learned several months ago that he would have the opportunity to serve as a delegate. "It was on my bucket list to go at least once. I think anyone in politics should feel it's a great honor," he said.

Although Slifka acknowledges that primaries have relegated conventions to a much more minimal role, they are still an important part of history.

"I think it's about telling the story to the country. It's an important chance to meet people from all over the country, to make connections," said Slifka.

Because of his position as a mayor, Slifka said that during the convention he will have the opportunity to attend policy briefings and forums with other mayors from across the country. He looks forward to sharing and bringing back great ideas. "When mayors get together, it's not really about politics, it's about discussing ideas for running a city."

Slifka has been heavily involved in the last two state conventions, which he said are much less of a formality than the national event. "They still mirror what happens in people's historical perception of a convention. There is brokering for votes, dark horse possibilities," he said.

When he attended the Democratic state convention in 2006, Slifka was on the ticket for Connecticut's lieutenant governor as the running mate of New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. He lost the nomination by three votes. "I don't think I'll ever replicate that. It was fun, intense, tactile, going right up and talking to people."

Slifka expects the national convention to be very different. "It's much more of a three-day scripted event for TV, but it's the other parts that add value for people like me," he said.

"Since I've never gone, my eyes are wide open." The logistics, which seem a bit daunting, might be the most intimidating part of the experience, Slifka said.

"We're not a battleground state, we're not large, we have no one on the ticket, so we are lower on the list and staying out near the airport, farther from town," Slifka said, referring to the Connecticut delegation's accommodations in Charlotte.

Although Slifka has met President Barack Obama briefly on a few previous occassions, he does not anticipate any contact with him at the convention. The president is scheduled to accept the party's nomination on Sept. 6.

Mayor Slifka will be writing about his convention experience in the "Local Voices" section of West Hartford Patch.

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