Young, D.C.-bound Mainers ‘excited’

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 16, 2009, at 11:58 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Forget the $1,000 hotel room.

When University of Maine freshman Nate Wildes heads to Washington, D.C., for the presidential inauguration, he wants to keep the price tag of his trip under $300.

He’ll do it in part because he has a “reservation” for the floor of an apartment that belongs to a pal who just happens to be a college Republican.

“That’s the thing about this inauguration,” Wildes said Friday. “It’s about independents and Democrats and Republicans coming together and getting energized about our president’s goals.”

He and others from Maine are part of a wave of young people expected to descend on the nation’s capital to celebrate.

And many plan to work, too.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Wildes and another UM student, Ben Goodman, plan to do an eight-hour volunteer shift as part of the National Day of Service tradition that President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to reinvigorate.

“We’ve never been asked before to make a sacrifice,” Goodman, 19, a political science major and Democratic activist from Kennebunk, said Friday.

Wildes, an 18-year-old political science and innovation major from Cumberland, said he’s looking forward to volunteering.

“It’s part of the idealism of Obama’s candidacy,” he said. “It’s getting people to recognize what our goal is, and what our part is going to be.”

Amy Fried, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine, said the youthful participation in Obama’s campaign and inauguration is very high.

“I think it’s remarkable in terms of the enthusiasm and energy,” she said.

The president-elect really tapped into the communication technologies that youths have made their own, such as text messaging, instant messaging and the social networking Web site Facebook, Fried said.

“But there’s always the potential that if you raise expectations they can get dashed, and people will feel even less connected than maybe they would have,” she said. “It will be a difficult balancing act.”

For the moment, young Mainers who are headed to the capital seem to have tipped over to the side of exuberance.

“I’m excited,” said Kyle Leathers of East Millinocket, a journalism student at Emerson College in Boston who plans to ride a bus for 14 hours to get to the inauguration.

“I’m huge into politics and history, and to be able to go to this and be surrounded by all this history, it’s exciting.”

Mattie Porter of Dixmont is a journalism student at New England School of Communications at Husson University in Bangor. She was surprised, but pleased, recently to learn she had been selected to go to the inauguration with a group of Husson students.

“I’m really excited to go see a historic event,” Porter, 20, said. “My personal hope is to be able to see what’s going on. I hope that everything goes successfully, and that everyone comes together and pulls it off.”

Leathers, who was the precinct captain for Obama’s primary campaign in East Millinocket and Medway, said he went door to door and held up signs on the side of the road during the campaign.

“I’d always hoped to be able to go to an inauguration,” he said. “But to be able to go is pretty amazing.”

acurtis@bangordailynews.net

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http://bangordailynews.com/2009/01/16/news/young-dcbound-mainers-lsquoexcitedrsquo/ printed on August 21, 2014