The oldest delegate representing North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention is Charles Johnson of Nash County. He's 90 years old. And one of the youngest delegates is Nick Carpenter of Cleveland County. He's a 19-year-old college freshman.
His friends call him “Nick the Democrat”. That’s because most of them are Republican.
“I have a sense of humor so I can joke around and not get offended about it,” Carpenter says.
Nick Carpenter first got involved with politics as a high school freshman, volunteering for the Obama campaign.
“I knew he would do a good job of being president,” Carpenter says. “We were going downhill fast and I felt like he was our only option to help turn it around.”
He’s now a college freshman. It’s his commitment to local politics that made him decide to attend college close to home at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs.
He’s the Cleveland County Democratic Party’s Third Vice Chairman, heads the Young Democrats for the 10th congressional district and he’s the vice-chair for the rural caucus of the Young Democrats.
“I know it sounds crazy but it’s mainly just so I can stay in this area and keep working with the local county Democratic Party,” Carpenter says.
But Nick’s not interested in running for office. His major is athletic training and he wants to pursue a career in sports medicine. But he takes his local politics seriously.
He’s already voted in three elections. There was the race for Shelby mayor, the school board and the race for the city’s commissioner of water in the Shelby’s soil and water election. Not exactly the type of race that gets most teens excited.
“Everything in our lives is affected by political decisions and decisions that people in congress and people in the state house and people in your local county commission office make,” Carpenter says.
He’s one of three delegates from the 10th congressional district. There were 22 candidates who delivered one-minute speeches at the district’s convention in May.
“I was one of the last ones so I knew they were tired of listening to everything,” Carpenter says. “I basically asked them for their support because they’d all seen how hard I worked for ‘em and I’d try my best to represent ‘em. And they all put their faith in me and elected me.”
But being a delegate at the DNC is not cheap. He has to pay $1,300 to stay at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Uptown and he’s been working long hours at the Cleveland County country club’s tennis facility to save up.
“I was just planning on volunteering,” Carpenter says. “When I heard they were coming to North Carolina, I knew that I was going to be a part of it somehow.”
He said delegates were told to expect long days and nights, working with the 187 other state delegates. They will work on the official party platform. Much is predetermined, but he takes his duties seriously. He believes the government has a strong role in helping people, even if some of his family doesn’t share that view.
“My mother, my whole family, in Ohio, is pretty Republican, which I don’t understand,” Carpenter says. “But my mom never made much money. Just the town she lives in, there’s a lot of poverty and stuff like that, and I’ve seen a lot of situations that suck. And sometimes people try as hard as they can and they still have trouble making it.”
After the convention, Nick will campaign for President Obama, but he’s going to focus on getting local Democrats elected.
He’s helping campaign for former Burke County sheriff John McDevitt who is running for North Carolina Senate District 46 and Democratic congressional candidate Patsy Keever, who is running against incumbent Patrick McHenry for the state’s 10th Congressional District.
The youngest delegate from North Carolina is 18-year-old Vibhav Kollu of Concord.