More than 5,000 delegates will cast votes under flashbulbs and streamers at the Democratic National Convention this week, and at least four have ties to GW.
Freshman Maggie Wedeman, junior Alex Yudelson and alumni Joshua Altman and Omar Woodard will each represent their home districts and cast ceremonious votes to cement President Barack Obama as this year’s Democratic nominee Sept. 6 in Charlotte, N.C.
A Lincoln, Neb. native, Wedeman was elected in April by her district’s Democratic caucus to represent the group in a historically conservative state, becoming one of five females in the district of over 500,000 people to do so.
“I wanted to become a delegate so that I could represent the vibrant, growing young Democrats of Nebraska, as well as support a president I believe in,” Wedeman said. “It means being able to help shape and vote for a platform that supports women’s rights, same sex marriage, minority rights, the list goes on.”
Aside from platform debates, the convention will also roll out a red carpet of Democratic stars, including first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – Obama’s former chief of staff.
For Yudelson, a political science and philosophy double major, the theatrics and soaring rhetoric will build momentum into the election run. The junior was elected in January to represent his hometown district of Henrietta, N.Y. as one of 337 delegates from the state heading to the party’s largest event in four years.
“We’re going to try to do everything we can to get our candidate elected for another term,” Yudelson said.
He grew up in a right-leaning town and district but has held ties with the Democratic Party since his grandmother served as chairwoman of the party’s Rochester branch. His father now serves as the town supervisor, a role similar to a mayorship.
After taking a few classes and joining GW College Democrats, he was hooked on politics and declared it his major, along with philosophy.
“When I started at GW, I didn’t know a lot about national politics,” Yudelson said. “I really owe a lot of my involvement to GW and its location.”
Joshua Altman, a 2012 graduate and former College Democrats president, will also cast a vote from a conservative district.
After spending the last year coordinating campaign trips and hosting members of Congress on campus, Altman is one of Georgia’s 17 delegates to the convention. He represents a state that has not elected a Democratic president since 1992.
He is one of three delegates from his district, and is the youngest by 20 years.
“I’m probably most looking forward to representing Georgia,” Altman said. “I’ve always thought my two favorite things were being a Georgian and being a Democrat.”
A four-year member of College Democrats, Altman said the group fueled his love for politics. Even after interning on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Treasury, he said his tenure as president of GW’s largest campus group provided the most meaningful experience.
“I got involved pretty much as soon as I got [to GW],” Altman said. “I hope the College Democrats see that it’s an organization that can really take you places.”
After earning his degree in economics last May, Altman joined the Teach for America corps and now works in Jacksonville, Fla.
Woodard, a 2005 alumnus and former Board of Trustees member, will vote as a Pennsylvania delegate, having grown up in North Philadelphia. He will also host an alumni, faculty and student reception at the convention Thursday.