A Look at the Democratic National Convention
Healing the Soul of America
When Frances Huntley-Cooper was elected mayor of
Fitchburg in April 1991, she became the first — and still the
only — African American to be elected mayor of a Wisconsin
city.
nomination from far away Delaware was a disappointment, it didn’t dampen Huntley-Cooper’s enthusiasm for Biden and the issues that are on the Democratic
platform.

“I am going to go with Healing the Soul of America,” Huntley-Cooper said about one of the major planks she wanted to highlight. “That’s one of the platform topics
that they will be addressing. That will basically deal with protecting the American civil rights of people, achieving racial justice and equality, protecting women’s
rights, LGBTQ rights, the rights of people with disabilities, honoring the indigenous tribal nations, ending violence against women, ending the epidemic of gun
violence, supporting faith and service for arts and culture and freedom of the press. Those are some strong reasons why I am supporting this plank, although I
support all of the platform planks.”

A second area that she would emphasize, perhaps reflecting her position as chair of the Madison College Board, is affordable and accessible quality public
education.

“Most people would go with a fair economy, raising the minimum wage and protecting workers’ rights and stuff like that because without that, we won’t have a
good economy,” Huntley-Cooper said. “But that isn’t my second choice. I am torn by several, but I select providing a world-class education in every zip code. And I
am selecting that one because it is going to be addressing issues of early childhood education. I think of my own grandchildren and I am on the Madison College
board and so, education is important to me from k-12 to post-secondary education. Guaranteeing universal early childhood education is important to me. High quality
k-12 is important. Schools across America whether I am in Wisconsin or North Carolina or wherever, we need high quality education. And we need to make higher
education affordable and accessible for our students so they can go to college. Along those lines, we need to provide students relief from crushing student debt, the
students or the parents, whoever is paying the tuition. There needs to be some kind of relief for students.”

Huntley-Cooper couldn’t leave it at just two platform planks to emphasize because she feels that the era of COVID-19 has made affordable healthcare for all an
important issue.

“I have my own health issues,” Huntley-Cooper said. “I’m just trying to personalize some of this. And then, of course, having Joe Biden in office, we know that he
will fight to protect affordable health care. And that’s a battle. We need to get someone in there who is there for all of the people. And with COVID-19, it’s important
that people can be healthy and not have to worry about the fall out. I hear stories where people have been treated for COVID-19, so they were able to prevail. But we
haven’t heard the stories of those same folks who are going to have side effects for an indefinite period of time. But the ones who do get through — and we know
thousands who have not — we’re thinking they are out of the woods. Yes they walk around like you and I might. But they still are suffering and are having side
effects that no one is talking about yet. I’ve heard stories of that happening to our survivors of COVID-19. That story is not out in front of the media. I can tell you that
is out there.”

While this interview took place before the big vice-presidential announcement, Huntley-Cooper was spot on when speculating on whom Biden should select as his
running mate.

“I would be rooting for Kamala Harris because she is a Senator first of all,” Huntley-Cooper confided. “She knows how to operate on The Hill. She is an attorney, so
she knows how to argue. And she knows how to not just argue, but also how to check out facts. I think Kamala will be an asset for Joe. Age has a lot to do with it.
She’s smart. She’s beautiful and intelligent. I think she is a team player. I think that a lot of people will have to get over the presidential debate. But I heard her say,
‘Y’all, that was a debate. That’s what you do in a debate.’ A debate is a debate. Often times, we don’t realize the role that people play. And we’re stuck on the past
history of what they saw back in July 2019 when she was debating Biden and was leading. Some people thought that attack was inappropriate. But everyone was
out to come out on top. And when you are in a debate, that’s what you do. You make your case. You argue. I can assure you that Joe Biden has no animosity against
her. That’s past. People have to understand that there are different stages. Their job was to make it out of that pack of over 20 candidates. Their job was to be in
front. She definitely garnered enough support. And she is from California, so I think there is a lot of things that would help the President. She would bring something
to the table, her intelligence, her background and the workings of Congress. She already knows the players. She would be able to come out and get Biden started
without having someone to be in that position that they are training. And during COVID-19, there are a lot of big things going on. You need someone who is sharp and
savvy enough and competent. We have seen her across the country. We know how she performs. And I think she would represent America. She will work very
well with Joe. And I think that we’d be proud of her just like we’d be proud if it were Michelle Obama whom everyone would love to have. But short of Michelle, we
have to go with Kamala.”
Part 1 of 2
By Jonathan Gramling

Frances Huntley-Cooper is a veteran of major party political conventions and politics in general.
Huntley-Cooper got engaged in national politics in the 1980s and was a Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.
delegate at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. She was just getting active in local politics
when she was elected to the Fitchburg Common Council around this same time and successfully
ran for Fitchburg mayor in 1991, the first and only African American elected mayor in Wisconsin’s
history.

In 1992, Huntley-Cooper attended the DNC as a Bill Clinton delegate and then took time off from the
delegate scene until 2008 and then again in 2012 as a Barack Obama delegate. And while she
contemplated not running to be a delegate again, she got back into the fray in 2020 when she
successfully ran to become a Joe Biden delegate for the 2020 DNC that was scheduled to be held in
Milwaukee.

While having the DNC turn into a virtual convention due to COVID-19 and having Biden accept the