Frank Snyder joined his first union when he was 16, as a member of a band who wanted protections he wouldn't otherwise have had in the industry.
The music didn't work out, but the rock-'n'-roll lifestyle seems a poor fit for a man who used the word "work" at least six times during the course of a 20-minute conversation.
The lifelong Democrat and former steel mill worker progressed through the union ranks and is now the secretary and treasurer for the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.
The 52-year-old Carroll Township man is one of a handful of York County residents elected in April as delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention, representing the 4th Congressional District. A first-time delegate, Snyder said he's looking forward to the fun events and the speeches, but he's more excited to get the platform out there and get to work.
"The reality is, what I anticipate the most is after the convention, to get down to the work," he said. "That's all fun, but I'm a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of person and I'm ready to get down to work."
He doesn't have long to wait.
Starts Tuesday: The 2012 Democratic National Convention will take place in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 4-6. Speakers include President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, activist Lilly Ledbetter, and Obama Campaign Co-Chair Eva Longoria. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will be the first Latino keynote speaker in convention history.
Snyder will join delegates Alaysha Claiborne of Red Lion, Salome Johnson of Hallam, and alternate delegate George Sanders of Red Lion. Also attending as delegates elected by the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania are state Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York City, York City Mayor Kim Bracey and House of Representatives candidate Sarah Speed of Springettsbury Township.
Several of the delegates appeared at a state Democratic party press conference held Thursday on York City's Continental Square. They said the differences between the two parties are clear: Republicans want "top-down" government in which the rich benefit while Democrats want the working middle class to chart the country's course.
Excitement: While Snyder is ready to work, first-time delegate Salome Johnson said she loves the democratic process and is extremely excited about being a delegate at the convention.
"It's the first time I saw my name on the ballot," she said. "One of the people at the polling station held up the ballot so I could take a picture of it after I voted."
The 65-year-old retired healthcare worker said she has seen Obama in person -- "at the White House Dec. 4, 2009, and I'll never forget the day" -- but she's looking forward to hearing him and other speakers.
The convention will inspire the grassroots activism that will carry Democrats to victory because the party's ideas are "more about the people," she said.
Johnson said she's been interested in politics since she first registered to vote when she was 18.
"Democracy works when you participate," she said. "The people have to participate and make their voices heard."
Some people are apathetic and vote only every four years, she said, and that makes her "crazy."
"I run into women who don't vote, and it drives me nuts," she said. "Think of the suffragettes. They were ostracized from their families, some of them. Force-fed, put in jail so I can vote. So how dare I not?"
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.