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James Meincke, left, and David Sjoberg cleaned up pretty well for the Inaugural Youth Ball. Donning tuxes, the two not only saw the president and first lady but also saw performances by Kanye West and Kid Rock. The tickets were given to Meincke, who gave up his first semester of college to work on the Obama campaign. Photo submitted

Meincke enjoys fruit of campaign

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Meincke enjoys fruit of campaign
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

It's always great when something you really work for turns out the way you want. But does it get any better when that something is the presidency of the United States?


James Meincke has had that experience, and he was there to see it all at the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Meincke initially was a volunteer for the Obama campaign and went on to become a paid staffer for the last six months of the campaign. The 2008 Hudson High School graduate postponed his first semester of college to take on the job. He spent most of his time working in Michigan.

According to Meincke, everyone who worked on the campaign was given the opportunity to attend the inaugural ceremonies. He got two tickets and knew he wanted his friend David Sjoberg to come with him to Washington.

Sjoberg, who was attending college in Chicago last semester, was in Grant Park on election night along with three other Hudson teens.

Meincke and Sjoberg had a place to stay in nearby Georgetown with a fellow campaign worker. The morning of the inauguration, they decided to walk to the Capitol Mall instead of taking the metro train. "It took awhile but it was a good way to go. The excitement was building everywhere as we got closer."

Meincke said their seats near the Capitol were good. Initially it seemed like they might not get seated due to some ticketing problem but they eventually were seated in time to hear the swearing-in.

"It was a great speech," in Meincke's opinion. "It was so cool being there, knowing he was actually the president." And he liked the tone of the speech.

"He talked about the challenges we face, how great they are, but he also said we could meet them, and I think everybody there believed him. People were just so happy. I mean, how often do you get to be around 2 million people in a really good mood? It was very cool to see. I called my mom after the speech and she was crying."

The pair donned tuxedoes to attend the Inaugural Youth Ball with 2,000 others. Another 5,000 were outside the main ballroom in another area. While there, they were up close not only to the president and first lady but also less than 10 feet away from performers Kanye West, Kid Rock and Fallout Boy.

Meincke was a few days late for the start of classes at UW-Madison, where he plans on majoring in political science and international studies, eventually going to law school. He thinks his stint with the campaign improved his work ethic, which he has already had to apply to some serious homework.

Meincke said the inauguration and everything leading up to it was the experience of a lifetime.

"I was definitely happy on election night, but there was this kind of feeling that we couldn't lose. It wasn't until the day before I left D.C. that it really hit me. He's going to be the president. And knowing I helped that happen, along with millions of other people, was and is something special."

Meincke says it is likely he will work on Obama's re-election campaign in four years.

He is the son of Carl and Judy Meincke of Hudson.

Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
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