Updated, 5/31 @ 12 a.m: Thomas Dec has been selected as a a delegate to the Democratic National Convention at the 4th Congressional District caucus.
Most kids, by the time they’re 18, perhaps have held down one after-school job—say, babysitting or working at the . They’re happy if they’ve scored tickets to a Lady Gaga concert. And if they’ve gotten the rare chance—through Wilton connections, of course—to get a glimpse of Twilight actor Robert Pattinson at a New York City movie premiere, they’ve hit the big time.
For Wiltonian Thomas Dec, there are bigger circles to move in and larger things to accomplish, considering he’s already worked on Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign, was a staff member for Jim Himes during his successful run for Congress in 2010, and attended the Democratic State Convention as a delegate representing Wilton that same year.
And Dec hasn’t even yet reached the age of 21.
He’s already met, shook hands with, and worked with some big political names -Obama, Biden, Himes, Malloy, Blumenthal and more- and according to local Democrats, Dec is a dedicated, hard-working political up-and-comer with a bright future ahead of him. But even as the youngest member of Wilton’s Democratic Town Committee (DTC), he’s still pretty modest about his own accomplishments.
“For me it’s all relative. Because I got started so early, it’s more that I’m continuing on the path I started. I’m proud of where I am, and appreciate the opportunities I’ve had. I know on a relative scale it’s all good, but on an absolute scale there’s still a lot to be done,” Dec said.
Dec, a Yale junior, got interested in politics at an early age, learning at the knee of his grandfather while the two watched the returns of the 2000 Presidential election. His passion grew as he observed national and state races in the ensuing years, and Dec eventually found himself as the statewide High School Coordinator for the Obama campaign in 2007. That role led to several inspiring instances of meeting the history-making future President.
“I wasn’t yet 18, I wasn’t able to vote for him, I wasn’t able to vote until 2009 so I never got to cast a ballot for the President. I said, if I’m still supportive in 2012—which I am—I will do everything I can to help him out and cast my vote and participate,” he said.
Now Dec is making history of his own by pursuing a chance to fulfill that promise. On Wednesday evening, at the 4th Congressional District’s Democratic Caucus he hopes to be selected as a delegate at this summer’s Democratic National Convention. If elected, he would be the first delegate to ever hail from Wilton.
Dec feels that winning a spot as a convention delegate would be important for other voters of his young generation.
“I don’t think there are enough young people involved in politics—they’re interested, and pay attention, but trying to get them to participate is what’s important. It’s showing that young people can be active, involved and engaged, like the President says, trying to ‘Be the change that you want to see.’ If you see that type of activity, that it’s appealing to other young people, that it’s not only a party of old, white men, that it’s a diverse party and young people can be involved too—that is something I’m trying to show by example.”
According to John Kalamarides, the chair of Wilton’s DTC, Dec has always earned respect.
“Adults don’t treat Tom like a kid, they always treat him like an adult, and he’s on equal par with any member of the DTC. He’s known in other parts of the 4th congressional district too, for his abilities, and his campaign work.”
That respect from Wilton and the other towns in the 4th district is going to be crucial for Dec to win one of the five delegate spots up for grabs. According to Kalamarides, the young democrat has been very smart and strategic in planning this effort.
“He has contacted all the town chairs in the district. He’s written to them, he’s made phone calls. It’s really a campaign that he’s running at this point. Tom is being very careful about who he’s having nominate him, and who gives secondary speeches. He’s got every inch of this planned out at this point.”
Indeed, Dec has set up both a Facebook page and a website for his campaign, and he’s even printed stationery. But what Kalamarides said is crucial for a Dec victory is to get supporters to turn out at the caucus Wednesday evening to cast their votes for the young Wiltonian.
“We need registered democrats to drive to Bridgeport and really pledge their support to Tom. I would like to have about 50 people there voting for him, and I think with a voting bloc that big we could really make a difference and get Tom in.”
The caucus will be held at the Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport (606 Howard Avenue); registration begins at 7:00 p.m. and the caucus starts at 7:30 p.m. Five delegate spots are open for women, and five are open for men (plus one alternate position for which a woman will be selected).
Kalamarides said that Dec would be perfectly suited for political office himself down the road: the DTC chair is even eyeing the CT Governor’s office for his young colleague. As for Dec, he definitely sees public service in his future, as a way to give back.
“I’m humbled by the problems we face and the issues I’m trying to devote my time to, and that puts whatever success I’ve had in check. It doesn’t matter how successful I’ve been or however involved I’ve been, it still pales in comparison to where I could be going and what progress could be made. Even though I’m further than the expectations, I still see a long road ahead,” said Dec.