Mike Smith is passionate about politics and public speaking. It's hard to imagine a better place for him than Boston next week.
Smith, a Steamboat Springs High School teacher and Democrat, flew to Massachusetts this week, where he'll represent Colorado and its 3rd Congressional District at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
The convention, which begins Monday and is expected to culminate in a Democratic presidential nomination for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, will be a new experience for Smith, who joins a rare group of Routt County Democrats elected as delegates for the party's national convention.
Smith was elected as a delegate during the state Democratic convention in Pueblo in June, when 250 of his peers from the 3rd Congressional District chose him over several other hopefuls.
In Boston, Smith will be one of 4,353 delegates from across the country, as well as from Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands. There are 64 delegates representing Colorado.
Voting for a presidential nominee will be one of his biggest responsibilities, but Smith also will spend the next five days attending a variety of caucuses and trainings, including National Education Association events. Smith is a member of the Steamboat Springs Education Association and the Colorado Education Association.
"I'm going to be pretty busy from 7:30 each morning to midnight each night," Smith said Friday from Milford, Mass., where his mother lives. "I'm very excited."
Listening to a slate of convention speakers that includes former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Kerry is particularly exciting, Smith said.
"You can't even begin to imagine the feeling of being able to sit in the audience and listen to them speak," he said. "It's just incredible the feeling I'm having about being able to do that."
Smith hopes to bring the energy from the convention back to Routt County, where he and other local Democrats want to energize voters to participate in the November election.
"This is a very important election year, and we're going to try to get the message out to undecided voters that we need a change in the White House," Smith said.
The Republican National Convention will be Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in New York City. No Routt County Republicans are attending the convention as delegates, local Republican chairman Buck Buckland said.