Obama takes the Mall

The Jefferson Theater has a new tenant: what appears to be the only local outpost for a major presidential candidate. But does the opening of the C'Ville Obama Center mean that the candidate is gaining some serious momentum in addition to some serious real estate? Organizers hope so.

The space, located 108 East Main in the space most recently occupied by an earth-friendly crafts store, was first used back in October, in the few weeks leading up to Obama's October 29 rally at the Charlottesville Pavilion. It is now being used again through the Virginia Democratic Primary next Tuesday, February 12th.

"The visibility makes a huge difference," says 'Hoos for Obama president, Adam Keith. "It shows a commitment to Charlottesville to have an office and people respond to that. In addition it makes a difference to have a meeting space for people to gather and organize."

Co-coordinators Kristin Szakos and Nancy Chappell, who worked together on the petition drive to first get Obama on the ballot and then bring him to speak in Charlottesville, have once again teamed up to run the center, which, they say, was funded with local donations.

According to Chappell, there is no other space of its kind being used by opponents, Republican or otherwise.

"I've never seen a Hillary center," says Chappell. "It seems like there is very little activity of Hillary people in Charlottesville."

Should Obama win the Democratic nomination, the Obama Center will eventually have to relocate due to theater renovations.

"Right now," says Chappell, "we are just waiting to see how we'll move forward after the end of the primaries. But we're hopeful."

[Photo shows volunteers Judith Layng, Marilyn Roselius, Jonathan Stevens, and Jerome A. King– click the photo to see everybody!]