CONGRESSIONAL STAFFERS FIND INAUGURAL RESPONSIBILITIES REWARDING

 

Tickets to the inauguration for Rep. Swalwell's constituents were stored for distribution in Bartholdi Park. While the sale of tickets is not illegal, it is frowned upon. Despite the high demand, Craigslist and eBay have recently agreed to stop the sale of inaugural tickets on their site.  (Alyssa Goard)

WASHINGTON -- Tucked away from the inauguration buzz, Karly Noblitt and Ricky Le sit bundled up and hidden underneath the sunlit awning at Bartholdi Park, just west of the Capitol Building. They’re handing out inauguration tickets to constituents in newly-elected Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell’s California district. Their discreet location was only recognizable to those who were directed to the park fountain and Le’s San Francisco Giants baseball cap.

 

The process of personally distributing tickets to constituents is just one of the extra responsibilities representatives take on during inauguration season.

 

In the past, constituents received priority seating assignments through a lottery system. This time around, however, Noblitt and Le are working to make the inauguration ticket system less confusing for their constituents.

 

“We set up in the park so that people could beat the huge lines in the congressional buildings to get tickets,” Le said. “We heard about so many problems with the ticket lines at the last inauguration that we figured we could save our constituents the time.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the past three days, Swalwell’s staff members have been waiting at the park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to help their constituents. For many like Kendra Willis of Hayward, Calif., the inauguration, which is Monday, marks her first trip to D.C., and the park-side ticket distribution provided a friendly, stress-free welcome to the nation’s capital.

 

According to Kelly Watkins, a staff assistant for Swalwell, each representative receives roughly 150 tickets for distribution, but there are still not enough tickets to meet demand.

 

“Because we give out the tickets [at congressional offices], it is really taboo -- though not illegal -- to sell them,” explained Watkins. Just recently, she said, an intern from another office was caught selling tickets on Craigslist. Consequently on Thursday, Senator Schumer, D-New York, announced that both Craigslist and eBay had agreed to stop the sale of inaugural tickets.

 

For Watkins, who moved to D.C. from Pleasanton, Calif. just two weeks ago to help with Swalwell’s move to the new office, coordinating the ticket distribution and constituent outreach are just some of her responsibilities.

 

“We’ve had some fun requests already,” said Watkins. “There is a woman who wants a 100th birthday wish from President Obama, so I’m helping her to get that accomplished.”

 

Swalwell’s office is also hosting a reception after the ceremony to give people a warm place to go until traffic dies down. Congressional staffers don’t necessarily get all the best perks at the Inauguration -- Watkins won’t even be able to attend the event because she will be back at the office setting up for the reception.

 

The congressman himself has many duties during this time, as well. Two weeks ago he attended Congress’ joint session meeting to certify the Electoral College vote, which confirms President Obama’s second term.

 

“For me, to see such an historical event with so many of my constituents is an amazing feeling,” said Swalwell, who looks forward to visitors from his town.

 

“It feels like home to hear people talking about life back in California around the office. I always sprint out of my chair to strike up a conversation when I hear visitors in the office,” Swalwell said. “These people are the reason I’m here.”

 

 

Editor’s note: Alyssa Goard is junior at Whitman College in Walla Wall, Wash. participating in the NewsHour U inauguration coverage. She is from Pleasanton, Calif.

Tickets to the inauguration for Rep. Swalwell's constituents were stored for distribution in Bartholdi Park. While the sale of tickets is not illegal, it is frowned upon. Despite the high demand, Craigslist and eBay have recently agreed to stop the sale of inaugural tickets on their site.  (Alyssa Goard)