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Astoria Dems mark Obama inauguration

Nick Rolson (second from r.), of the Queens Young Democrats, watches Obama's inauguration at an Astoria pub. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

Members of the Powhatan Democratic Club in Astoria said they were happy with President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech Monday and welcomed the presence of prominent New York officials at the historic Washington ceremony.

“This is really an opportunity for all of us to celebrate,” said Costa Constantinides, an Astoria district leader and City Council candidate who arranged the viewing party at Ravens Head Public House, at 38-04 Broadway in Astoria.

The crowd at the pub was sparse, with many members of the club having to work on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but those watching any of the five screens applauded several times throughout the broadcast, especially when Obama approached the podium, when he criticized long lines at polling sites — which was a huge problem in Queens during the 2012 election — and when he concluded his second inaugural address.

“I thought it was a great speech,” said 26-year-old Manhattan resident Erica Richmond. “I hope he makes good on what he promised today.”

Richmond said she was particularly impressed by the speech’s reference to “Seneca Falls, and Selma and Stonewall” and that she hoped that Obama’s second term would concentrate on improving the rights of women, blacks and the LGBT community.

“I hope he takes seriously the implications of being sworn in on Martin Luther King’s Bible,” she said.

Nick Rolson, 23, of the Queens County Young Democrats, said he was pleased Obama advocated for gay and lesbian rights for the first time, spoke about the need to deal with climate change and defended Social Security and Medicare.

“I thought it was very good,” Rolson said. “Excellent.”

He said he was also happy that New York was well-represented in the inaugural ceremonies, with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) acting as the master of ceremonies and Bronx-born Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor swearing in Vice President Joe Biden.

“It’s a showing of our strength,” Rolson said. “New York is a very influential state and we’re proud of our people and what we have accomplished.”

Noreen Caraher, 76, of Astoria, said she was impressed by Schumer’s speech and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

“This brings tears to my eyes,” Caraher said about the choir.

Constantinides said he hoped the new Congress and Obama could start working toward compromise on big issues in the next four years.

“We worked hard to have [Obama] elected, not only for himself but for the policies that he stood for,” Constantinides said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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