After four years, Alameda more low-key about Obama's inaugural

After four years, Alameda more low-key about Obama's inaugural

Michele Ellson

Cheryl Taylor and her daughter Julia Ruderman, 6, attend an inaugural event at the main library on Monday. Photo by Michele Ellson.

The crowd attending Monday’s inauguration viewing event at the Main Library was smaller and more subdued than the standing-room-only one that turned out when President Barack Obama was first sworn into office four years ago, with a handful of local League of Women Voters stalwarts gathering in the early morning darkness in the library’s main meeting room and a few dozen more arriving as the sunlight filtered in.

But even as the thrill of being part of history has given way to the reality of being president in a deeply partisan age, those who attended Monday’s event offered a list of issues they’d like to see the President tackle over the next four years – with the hope that some of those battle lines may be crossed.

“Standing back like spoiled brats and saying, ‘We’re not going to do things’ is not what our country is about,” Luann DeWitt said.

Like most of the event’s attendees The Alamedan spoke with, Cheryl Taylor said she’d like Obama to pursue a “sensible gun policy.” Taylor, who attended with her 6-year-old-daughter, Julia Ruderman, said she’d also like Obama’s health care reform to expand to include a government-run health insurance plan, known as a “public option,” and would like to see him press for a “real-life” climate policy, an issue Obama would later raise in his inaugural address.

While she was “still really excited” about Obama’s continued presidency, Taylor – who was wearing a faded Obama 2008 sweatshirt – said her primary feeling was one of relief.

“I’m feeling a lot more relieved that that guy, Paul Ryan, and the other guy, Mitt Romney, are not in office,” she said.

In addition to changing gun policies, several people who attended the League of Women Voters and library-sponsored event said they’d like to see a fresh immigration policy, while others said that they wanted health care to become cheaper and more accessible, particularly to people who live in rural areas where it is much less available.

“I’m hoping more people will be able to get better service for health care, more access to it through Obamacare,” said Brien Guillory, referring to the popular nickname for the Affordable Care Act. Continued improvements to the economy and education reform were other policies Guillory said he’d like to see Obama continue to make progress on.

They also said they’d like to see Obama maintain America’s position as a world leader, another point the President touched on in his address.

“I hope to see leadership in the world – not necessarily boots on the ground, but moral leadership,” Juelle-Ann Boyer said.

But some Obama supporters – who felt the partisan divide is causing more political damage for Republicans than for the President – said they fear he will be unable to bridge the partisan differences between the White House and Republicans in Congress.

“I worry when I hear the news media say Republicans are not going to move,” Donna Vaughn said.

Obama’s address touched on several of the policies the audience at the Alameda library event said they wanted addressed, drawing its loudest cheers when he advocated a continued fight for equal pay for women, equal rights for gays and easier access for voters who faced long lines in at least one state – Florida – where access was reportedly reduced.

While Newt Gingrich’s appearance on the library screen drew boos and hisses, audience members cheered as Obama completed his oath of office.

“I’m just pleased that he made it again, for a second term,” Guillory said.

Extra: Our comments from Facebook>

Here's what some of you said you hope to see happen during President Obama's second term.

Liz Barrett: My deepest underlying hope for President Obama's second term is that the national debate can return to some sort of civility and address the issues rather than continue on the hateful, closed-minded trajectory we have suffered the past four years.

Tom Sartwell: The inaugural address accomplished its purpose, I felt hopeful. I pray our politicians can, for once, put the welfare of America and our people before partisan considerations. I would like President Obama to introduce a concept to government that has been long forgotten - integrity.