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Election Day brings reporter up close to history

Nov. 10, 2004


On Election Day, I had the chance to be in the middle of the Republican campaign party at Slo-Pokes BBQ on Second Street. I was assigned to cover Jeffrey Hibbs, a 25-year-old Waco insurance agent who ran for state representative in this year's election, for the Lariat.

The party also featured former State Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, the Republican candidate who ran for Congress and Felipe Reyna who ran for judge of the 10th Court of Appeals.As I went inside the restaurant, I was engulfed in a swarm of red, white and blue. One lady took her patriotism so far as to wear a flag-print jacket, a headband of streamer horns and constantly wave a U. S. flag. In one room, I saw cameras, lights and local television reporters also covering the party. I heard someone say there were 450 people there, enough to force the manager to ask people to move to neighboring rooms.I had the feeling I would be one of only three college students there, the other two being another reporter and a photographer.

This feeling made me slightly uncomfortable because I tend to get easily intimidated by older people, especially important older people. I've had many experiences where I was too shy to speak to someone simply because they were older than I was. And now here I was, a young-looking college kid, in the middle of important local history and getting to talk to those creating it.I sat in a small booth next to the pressroom and was surprised to see quite a few fellow students. Well, at least more than I expected.

Everyone wandered around the restaurant, mingling with others and eating food provided by Slo-Pokes. I had the chance to meet quite a few people, including Jeffrey Hibbs and a few of the Baylor students there. News reporters took turns interviewing each candidate and their supporters, including a huge group of Reyna fans and family.

The crowded party continued until the early morning hours, and most people stuck around for the final results. Besides showing information about the local elections, there were about 15 televisionsshowing coverage of the presidential election. However, no one could tell anything about any elections for many hours.

Eventually it was determined that Hibbs lost to Democratic opponent Jim Dunnam and Wohlgemuth lost to Chet Edwards, D-Waco.

These outcomes put a slight damper on the campaign party, but it was still a great experience.

How many people get to be in the middle of history being created? If you look around, history is being made all the time. I encourage other students to find ways to get involved in the Waco community.

It doesn't have to be through political events or only during election years; there are plenty of other ways you can be active. Not only will involvement help you gain invaluable experience, you could also meet people who may help you in the future.