Dillon resident represents Summit County at Democratic National Convention

Dillon resident Birrion Sondahl was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in August. Although the convention was virtual this year, Sondahl said he was proud to represent Summit County.
Photo by Libby Stanford /

DILLON — When Dillon resident Birrion Sondahl found out he would be a delegate at the Democratic National Convention, he didn’t expect to represent Summit County via Zoom. 

Sondahl attended the convention as a delegate when it streamed virtually from Aug. 17 to Aug. 20. He said the entire experience was a little odd, as delegates didn’t find out that the event would be virtual until July — just a month before the event kicked off. 

“At the actual convention, delegates didn’t have anything different from regular people,” Sondahl said. “We just watched the live stream like anyone else.”

All of the official delegate business, such as voting for the nominee and the party platform, was done via email, Sondahl said. The delegates were sent PDF documents with secure bar codes, which they filled out and returned. 

While the experience may have been underwhelming, Sondahl said it was much easier than having to fundraise for travel to Milwaukee, where the convention was to have taken place originally. Initially, Sondahl was preparing to spend around $1,500 on travel, food and hotels. 

Sondahl’s journey to the convention started with his passion for supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders for the presidential nomination. He spent the primary campaign season canvassing, texting and working at a phone bank for Sanders. His friends encouraged him to apply to be a delegate to represent Summit County and advocate for a Sanders nomination. 

“(I support Sanders) because of his policies,” Sondahl said. “Medicare for all, the green new deal, addressing income inequality and trying to address the systemic problems that we have in our country.”

Sondahl ultimately voted for Sanders to win the presidential nomination. Although Democrat Joe Biden won the nomination, Sondahl said that he will be writing Sanders’ name on the ballot on Nov. 3. 

“I feel like the Democratic Party is kind of leaving the progressive wing behind and not addressing our concerns,” he said. “(President Donald) Trump is obviously evil and has done a lot of terrible things, but looking at Joe Biden’s history, I can’t vote for Biden either. My preference is to vote for Bernie even though I know that won’t really count.”

Sondahl also joined the over 1,000 progressive delegates who voted against the party’s proposed platform. The platform didn’t include a Medicare for all plan, which was the deciding factor in Sondahl’s vote.

Although the convention didn’t ultimately pan out the way he hoped, Sondahl said it was rewarding being able to represent Summit County. 

“It was nice to have representation,” he said. “I noticed the majority of the delegates, whether they were Bernie, Biden, Warren or Bloomberg, were from the Denver area. It’s nice to give the mountains a little bit of representation.”

Summit County Democrats Chairwoman Patti McLaughlin said that she was proud to have a local delegate at the convention. 

“With his voice, although we are a small county, we actually had a big voice at this moment in time,” she said. 

While Sondahl acknowledges his presidential vote won’t count for much, he will still be voting, and points out there are many more issues on the ballot than just the presidential election. 

“I think people should vote, definitely down ballot for progressives,” he said. “There’s some issues that will be on our ballot in Colorado which are important.”

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