- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

NEW YORK — Alice Banks, 83, of the District, and 18-year-old Mary Pauline Jones, of Vienna, Va., have led very different lives until both served this week in separate delegations at the Republican National Convention.

Miss Jones, who will vote for the first time on Nov. 2, celebrated her 18th birthday on Aug. 27 by traveling to the Big Apple, where she is the youngest of 4,852 delegates and alternate delegates.

Ms. Banks, who recalled casting her first ballot for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt — and regretting it — is a veteran of World War II, which Miss Jones has studied in history books.

Mr. Roosevelt was “the first and only Democratic vote I ever made,” said Ms. Banks, who is attending her seventh Republican convention and looking forward to casting a D.C. vote on Nov. 2 to re-elect President Bush.

By the time Miss Jones has witnessed that many conventions, she hopes her own political career will have blossomed.

“I want to work my way up the ranks to the White House,” said Miss Jones, who just started her freshman year at Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

The 18-year-old Virginian traces her interest in politics to her late father, who was an executive of state and national coalitions of law-enforcement officers.

“My father passed away when I was in eighth grade, and I continued working. That’s when I got active,” said Miss Jones, adding that peers tease her about her politics.

She said she thinks that young people should contribute to the political community and that she appreciates representing her state as an alternate delegate.

“I get to show people my generation really does care.”

Both Miss Jones and Ms. Banks call Mr. Bush a good leader for the Republican Party and express confidence that he will defeat Democratic Sen. John Kerry in November.

“I have no problems with the platform. I just want to get more minorities and youth involved,” Miss Jones said.

The convention’s oldest delegate voiced only one note of disagreement with Mr. Bush’s agenda — his proposal for a constitutional amendment to regulate same-sex “marriage.”

“I feel great about Bush,” Ms. Banks said, “but I wish he’d left the gay issue to states.”

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