All eyes on Obama’s inauguration

Democratic headquarters in Valley Stream hosts viewing party


Four years ago, Barack Obama made history. On Jan. 21, he repeated it. The nation’s eyes were on Washington, D.C., for Obama’s inauguration to his second term — about one million people filled the National Mall and about 20 sets of eyes were focused on a flat-screen television at the Town of Hempstead Democratic Committee’s headquarters in Valley Stream.

The headquarters, in a small storefront on Brooklyn Avenue, between the firehouse and Sunrise Highway, served as an Obama campaign headquarters leading up the election. For local Democrats, it only seemed natural to gather there again to celebrate the fruits of their labor.

“It’s closure for us. It’s excitement,” said Matt Hynes, a member of the Democratic Committee who organized the inauguration party.

With pictures of Obama displayed throughout the room, as well as campaign signs and photos of other prominent New York Democrats (including Franklin D. Roosevelt), guests cheered when master of ceremonies Sen. Charles Schumer introduced Obama, and they cheered some more at various points in the president’s inaugural address.

When Obama finished setting out his plans for the next four years, viewers shared their thoughts with one another, with just about everyone giving the president a good review. That wasn’t the case 3½ months ago, when the headquarters was the site of a another viewing party, for the first presidential debate, after which most local Democrats agreed that Obama’s performance was lacking and most pundits judged Mitt Romney the clear winner.

“I loved the speech,” said Ann Cunningham, of Valley Stream, a Democratic committeewoman since 1972. “It was wonderful. I am so proud of Barack Obama.”

Cunningham said that Obama’s address touched on many of the issues important to her — the need for better gun control, fixing Social Security and tackling environmental issues.

She said that while many people might not have voted for the president, as Americans they need to support him. Cunningham added that she hopes Obama’s second term will feature more bipartisanship in Washington.

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