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Oak Harbor girl attends Democratic National Convention

Today, North Whidbey native Sarah Schacht is bobbing around somewhere in the frenetic crush of the Democratic National Convention. Schacht might sport a few political buttons, but she’s probably not wearing a crazy hat or waving out-sized signs. While any party convention can be a heady scene, the big time of Boston won’t disrupt Schacht’s political rhythm.

Since being selected as a national convention candidate, Schacht’s been meeting as many Democrats as she can to get to know issues concerning local people. Understanding these concerns will help her spend her time in Boston wisely.

“The convention will be jammed with activities,” Schacht, 24, said during an interview July 17 in Oak Harbor. “But this is a work trip, not a sight-seeing one.”

In addition to the hours spent in bleachers at Boston’s Fleet Center listening to speeches and voting on Democratic platform points, Schacht will be bombarded with delegate training sessions, meetings, caucuses and social-political events hosted by a myriad of groups. She’s looking forward to Rock the Vote’s function as well as a Howard Dean staff alumni lunch.

She’s in Beantown to parlay with the other 94 members of the state delegation, as well as Democrats from the rest of the states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to include as many of Dean’s principles into John Kerry’s platform as she can.

Schacht is an “at-large” delegate for Dean. A percentage of Washingtonions selected the New England governor as their candidate during caucuses earlier this year. So Dean and others who received votes — including Dennis Kucinich — will be represented.

And Schacht, who spent months working for Dean in Vermont, New Hampshire and then Iowa, knew she could not pass up the chance to support her candidate during the national convention. She campaigned, beginning in Island County and continuing to the state level where she was elected to attend the Boston convention.

“Everyone (at the convention) will support Kerry,” Schacht said. “That said, I’ll be advocating for the platform and issues brought by the Dean campaign.”

Schacht said Dean’s stand for being fiscally conservative and supporting the military drew her to his campaign.

“It’s what I was brought up with on Whidbey Island,” she said.

Those issues inspired Schacht to road trip to New England to assist with the Dean’s presidential campaign. In Vermont and New Hampshire, she helped set up 5,000-person conference calls and consulted on targeted Internet use. She moved from unpaid intern to campaign staff. During her almost 12 months with the Dean campaign, she spoke to college students like herself, and any other person she could corral to hear Dean’s ideas. On bicoastal road trips, she stopped in as many states as she could to stump for Dean.

In Boston, she’ll be pushing for strong language supporting troops in the party platform.

“The Democratic party needs a consistent international policy on sending in ground troops,” Schact said. “Our military actions must be justified.”

International policy aside, Schacht said she would be a voice for local Democrats at the convention.

After retuning from Boston, Schacht will graduate from college with, what else, a degree in political science. She wants to establish a non-profit organization that will help make searching the state’s Web site easier for people to access government information. And she plans on assisting with local campaigns as much as she can.

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