Dispatch From the DNC: Political Reporting, With a New Baby in Tow
Marisa Lagos of KQED’s Politics and Government Desk with her 5-month-old baby, Diego, at the DNC this week. (Courtesy Marisa Lagos)
At the Democratic National Convention this week, there’s been a lot of talk about gender, working women and child care. Marisa Lagos of KQED’s Politics and Government Desk knows a thing or two about those subjects. She brought her 5-month-old baby, Diego, (and her own mom to help with child care) along to Philadelphia, so she could report on the convention.
What’s it been like for you this week juggling being a nursing mom, having a new baby and also covering this historic convention?
It’s been tough, but fun and rewarding, and there have definitely been some trade-offs. I probably would have spent a little more time out late after the convention talking to people, but I’ve had to come home to the hotel. But it’s been really neat. This is something that my mom and Diego will have most of their lives as part of their history, too.
How have people reacted when you’ve gone up to interview them and you have your baby in your arms?
In general, very positively. He’s cute! I say that as his mother, but people like babies. And I think it’s humanized me to a lot of the politicians that I normally talk to in high-pressure situations. But it’s also been a challenge. I had to sneak to the back of the breakfast room to nurse him one day, and I’ve had to figure out how to transport breast milk and pumps and all that stuff. So it was a little more logistically challenging than it would have been coming here on my own.
You’ve been talking to some high-profile politicians, but also regular folks from parts of California who don’t often have a major voice in the political arena. Places like the rural Eastern Coachella Valley.
That’s right. I got to catch up with 23-year-old Olivia Rodriguez, who writes for a youth publication called Coachella Unincorporated. She grew up in Thermal. Her parents were farmworkers, and she and her twin are the first to go to college in her family. She just graduated from UC Berkeley.
I asked her about what it was like being here, what it meant to her. She said, “For me it was like mind-blowing. I’ve never been in a space where there’s so many people in different positions of power and having the chance to talk to them about issues that are going on in my community. Youth, immigration, education. I felt like for me that was really a privilege for me to be there and have that access.”
She wants to take that home, she wants to really encourage other young people, especially in the rural part of California that she’s from, to have that experience.
You also talked to California’s oldest delegate, Roz Wyman. What was that like?
She was quite a trip. She’s 85 and this was her 16th convention. She started coming in 1952 when she was just 22. That was for Adlai Stevenson. And back then, she was the youngest delegate, and a rare woman delegate. She actually went on to chair the Democratic Convention in 1984 in San Francisco, where Geraldine Ferraro was nominated as the first female vice president. Roz’s mom was her inspiration. She was a political activist in her own right. And she became political just after women won the right to vote.
Roz said, “My mother would be absolutely standing on a chair yelling ‘We won, and look at what we have done in America.’ On my tombstone, I want it to say that I was a great mom and I helped Hillary Clinton get elected in the year 2016.”
KQED’s Scott Shafer did a longer interview with Roz, where she recounted more of that history.
Back when Roz Wyman was first a delegate, you wouldn’t have had transgender delegates at the convention.
That’s right, and there were actually some 28 transgender delegates this time around. I was able to catch up with 25-five-year-old Mia Satya. She’s a Sanders delegate from San Francisco. Like most Sanders supporters, she’s still a little disappointed in what happened. But when I asked her about the historic nature of the convention, she did acknowledge that it was pretty special being here.
“Growing up as someone who was perceived as a boy in a town of about a thousand people, I mean, I’m almost crying right now,” she said. “But I didn’t think I would see our party rally behind LGBT rights, trans rights. And to see someone nominated for president as a woman, even if I don’t agree with her, I have to feel that history, and it’s very powerful.”
It sounds like you had a pretty inspirational week meeting these folks. What are you going to do with all these pictures of California politicians holding your baby, Diego?
We’ve been sending some home but we’re going to have a lot to go over with Dad and Grandpa when we actually arrive back in California. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.