(Sept. 20, 2011) The Tenth Congressional District Young Democrats chair is one of the most experienced political hands in Cleveland County. He is Nick Carpenter, 18, a senior at Shelby High School.
For the last three years--notwithstanding he wasn’t old enough to register as a voter till March 2011--he has practiced what was preached in all those civics classes: work actively in politics to make government better.
And work he has, in addition to studies, other extracurricular activities, and teaching tennis at Shelby City Park. He’s an oldtimer now at the nuts and bolts. Voter canvassing on foot and by phone, putting up the party’s fair booth, helping to open and staff its headquarters, greeting voters outside polling places, fundraising, flagging up for conventions…. Soaking up political organizational knowledge while pitching in on campaigns from President Obama’s to local races.
Now Dems have called on him to apply that organizational knowledge and experience directly in some key offices.
As Tenth Distict Young Democrats chair, he has set for himself the goal of having chapters active in each one of the district’s 10 counties. He’s president of the Shelby High and Cleveland County Young Dems, and he’s enthusiastic about the organization’s potential to engage many more as 2012 elections near. He represents the district on the Young Dems State Executive Committee, and he has been named to the state membership committee.
In late July, Carpenter represented the county, district, and state as part of the North Carolina delegation to the national convention of Young Democrats of America, held in Louisville, Ky.
Cleveland County Democrats, meeting in April convention, earlier elected Carpenter unanimously as third vice chair of the local party. By policy, Dem officer teams always include a member under age 36. But, as County Chair Davy Lowman says, “it’s Nick’s smarts, reliability, and hard work that we’re counting on.”
Nick is the son of David Carpenter III of Shelby and Karen Cross of Ohio and the grandson of David and Gennie Carpenter of Shelby. Interested in politics as early as the Bush-Gore campaign, he first became involved in the 2008 primaries--initially in support of Hillary Clinton and subsequently as an intern in Barack Obama’s campaign. That’s when he figured out politics was fascinating.
“I was going to the Dem/Obama headquarters every day after school until about 9:00 or 10:00 p.m,” Nick says, “and I would be there all day on weekends. I would do homework while phone banking or making up canvassing packets.”
One result of his “hanging around” was that other Dem candidates soon noticed the young man who could get things done. Since then, he has been enlisted in the primary and general election campaigns of several county and district candidates and helped out in senatorial and gubernatorial races.
What’s the reward of the hard work? “I’ve had the chance to meet and work withhundreds of amazing people,” Nick says, from citizens at the grassroots to officeholders such as Gov. Beverly Perdue, Sen. Kay Hagan, and many state House and Senate members, as well as state party leaders. But the best part, he says, is being able to promote the Democratic values he passionately believes in and help shape the future for young people coming of age now.
Nick’s Dem colleagues aren’t sure whether they’ll see his name on a ballot one day or whether he’ll become a savvy campaign mastermind for others. Or choose some other career while keeping a keen eye on politics. He is, as the pundits say, “keeping all his options open.”
This article also appeared in The Shelby Star.