BOSTON – Sarah Bender of Medina,Ohio,was forced to go with her father,Doug,to many of his political endeavors when she was a little girl. Now 17,she accompanies him of her own free will,as the youngest delegate at the Democratic National Convention.
At the convention Wednesday,Sarah was chosen to lead the delegates in The Pledge of Allegiance as part of the opening ceremonies. There,she also met and was photographed with the oldest delegate at the convention – 90-year-old Edward “Red” Lackey,of Ormond Beach,Fla.
When she was a child,Sarah's father had to take her along with him everywhere because her step-mother was either at work or at school. With him,Sarah discovered her love for politics,one that led her to run for delegate from Ohio.
“Her dad was the former Democratic chairman for our county,” said Becky Bender,Sarah's step-mother. “Sarah learned most of her politics from him. As soon as she got older,she became more involved. And when she decided to run for delegate,she just wanted to try and said all they can do is say no.”
Sarah said she decided in December to run for delegate after realizing she wanted to reach out to young people,to tell them how important it is to vote.
She got on the Internet to find out the requirements and which presidential candidate she wanted to represent.
Ohio law says that a 17-year-old can run for delegate as long as he or she turns 18 before the national election.
“Sarah turns 18 – 12 days before the national election,” her step-mother said with a laugh.
As for which candidate she pledged to run for,Sarah said she chose Kerry,because “he best represented me.”
“Seeing her on TV is great,” said Becky Bender,48,a teacher. “But she's also doing so well,she's up on the issues,she's not getting overwhelmed. It's every parent's dream.”
Sarah and her dad both wound up being delegates for Ohio because they live in different congressional districts. He and her step-mother and brother live in Strasburg and Sarah lives with her mother in Medina where she is about to begin her senior year in high school.
Asked if she'll continue in politics,Sarah shrugged and replied,“I'll always be politically active,but I don't know if I'd ever run for anything.”
Becky Bender is confident that no matter how active or how far her step-daughter gets,she will always remember what's important.
“Sarah insisted on bringing her little brother to the convention,” she said. “And to all the parties she got invited to,she said she would go if only she could take him.”