Hersheller "Shella" Merritt will be representing Stamford at the Democratic National Convention in Charolette, NC, this year. It's a dream she's been chasing since she was 17 years old.
"I've always wanted to attend," she said. "I used to watch all those people making a difference and think, 'I wonder who they are, how they got there, what're they doing?' I never thought I could be involved. I'm just a normal person. I'm no scholar or politician."
Shella said a personal hero of hers was Fannie Lou Hamer, vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, who attended the convention in Atlantic City, NJ, in 1964.
Born and raised in Stamford, she watched someone like Hamer struggle so valiantly to raise awareness of the plight of her people through a political machine and wanted to be able to do something similar.
"This seems like it's going to be a close race," Merritt said. "I try to educate people as much as I can on the democratic process, I just try to bring a little more understanding to my world."
Governor Dannel P. Malloy will also be at the convention, his fifth time attending and second time speaking. Malloy agrees with Merritt and said the race being as close as it is made little sense to him.
"I'm firmly committed to the president's re-election," he said. "It looks like it's going to be a close one but, quite frankly, I'm having a hard time understanding why that is. The Ryan/Romney plan for America will really hurt the middle class and really decimate the futures of our older Americans."
Merritt said sticking with the local government shows a special kind of commitment and takes a special kind of person. Those who do typically care about their cities.
"I'm not interested [in moving up,]" Merritt said. "It will be fascinating to see things operate at a national level, but I'm from Stamford. I'm involved here. And none of the representatives here are paid. If you're involved in something on your own time, I believe it is because you care."