College Democrats create impression in Washington, D.C.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Shelly Peavler in Washington, D.C.

Amye Buckley

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Shelly Peavler in Washington, D.C.

Local students made their presence known at the College Democrats of America Leadership Summit Feb. 1-3.

Shelly Peavler, senior political science major and president of Missouri Southern’s College Democrats, along with Darrell Sour, senior sociology and marketing major, traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet 300 other college delegates.

During the leadership summit, students focused on specific training areas, like fundraising and media relations.

The summit was timed to coincide with the Democratic National Convention’s winter meeting where students heard Democratic presidential candidates speak.

Peavler and Sour were able to talk with several candidates; Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

Peavler admires John Edwards but was surprised by Richardson’s appeal to the crowd.

“He wasn’t really on my radar much,” Peavler said, referring to Richardson. “But boy, he was the standout.”

During his speech, Richardson listed his qualifications as the former ambassador, congressman and now governor.

“He has all the experience you’d want.” Peavler said.

During the DNC’s meeting, the College Democrats were recognized. Lauren Wolfe, president of the College Democrats of America, spoke to the DNC. Peavler sees this recognition as the beginning of a better partnership between the national Democratic organization and the college organization.

“We’re getting out the youth vote,” Peavler said. “That’s kind of what we’re striving for.”

Sour sees himself as more of an independent or a reluctant Democrat, but the more he hears from the Democratic Party the more he agrees with it.

“I still consider myself a very conservative person,” Sour said. “But I don’t think Republicans are conservative.”

He cited the current policy on Iraq to back up his point and says the candidates were committed to running positive campaigns.

Peavler left the conference excited about the future.

“I think it re-energizes,” Peavler said. “I think it re-energized me to know that all the hard work that we put in this fall is being acknowledged.”

Other highlights included a private tour of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office. Howard Dean showed up during registration and Peavler had her picture taken with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. Peavler said the meetings and photo opportunities came from a combination of good timing and persistence.