When local attorney George Fearing travels to Charlotte, N.C., for the Democratic National Convention, he'll be sharing the experience with his 17-year-old son.
Fearing's son won't turn 18 until next year -- too late to cast his vote in this year's election -- but Fearing is eager to show his son a piece of democracy in action.
"I'm excited he's going with me," said Fearing, a longtime political activist in the region.
Fearing, of Richland, is one of four Mid-Columbians representing Washington's 4th Congressional District as delegates to the national convention, which starts Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C.
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Also attending are Teri Staudinger of Pasco, Brad Taylor of Prosser and Ken Caylor of Othello.
The four were elected as national delegates by fellow Democrats at the state party convention in June.
Staudinger said it's her first time serving as a national delegate, but she wanted to do it because she believes the nation is at a critical juncture.
"I think this is a really important year," she said. "There's a lot going on -- a lot of attacks on unions and teachers."
As well as being the chairwoman for the 4th Congressional Democrats, Staudinger is president of the Kennewick Education Association, and said she's worried about the future of education when budgets, and teacher salaries, are being cut, and Republicans in many states, most notably Wisconsin and Ohio, have mounted attacks against unions representing public employees.
She said some of the teachers her union represents sometimes don't make the connection between casting their votes for candidates and what happens in their classroom or to their paychecks.
"If they don't open their eyes and see what's happening or could happen, we could get a person in office who is not pro-education or pro-middle class," she said.
It's also Fearing's first turn as a national delegate, and like Staudinger, he said this is an important election cycle, and he's going to Charlotte because he wants to support President Obama's re-election bid.
He said economic issues are forefront in his mind, and he doesn't believe presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has the right plan to handle the national deficit and other parts of the economy.
"I worry much about the Republicans' plan for the economy to de-regulate banks. That will just put us back into the situation we were in during the Bush administration," he said. "I worry about the Republicans' plan to continue to cut taxes. We need to lower the deficit before we start cutting taxes. I agree we need to lower spending, too, but now is not the time to cut taxes until we lower the deficit."
Fearing and Staudinger look forward to what Obama has to say in his nomination acceptance speech scheduled for Sept. 6, the final day of the convention.
Fearing said he believes Obama should talk about the struggles and obstacles he's faced the past four years, and highlight his accomplishments such as bringing troops home from Iraq, abolishing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gay and lesbian members of the military, and making strides in health care with the Affordable Care Act.
The president also should talk about the small strides he's made toward lowering unemployment, while acknowledging it'll take more time to finish the job he set out to do, Fearing said.
"He's a very good president," Fearing said.
Staudinger said she'd like to see Obama highlight the differences between Democratic and Republican policies and show voters they have a real choice in November.
"I think there's a lot of Democrats who are disillusioned, who expected Obama to get into office and everything would turn around immediately," she said. "I hope that Democrats will turn out and support him. ... I know he's tried to do the best he could do."
Fearing said he's also looking forward to the camaraderie of spending four days with throngs of fellow Democrats.
"We don't get a whole lot of that in the Tri-Cities," he said.