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Norwin High School graduate Sever elected delegate to Democratic National Convention

Joe Napsha
| Monday, July 4, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Brannon Sever, 19, of North Huntingdon, Democratic delegate pledged to Bernie Sanders.
Brannon Sever, 19, of North Huntingdon, Democratic delegate pledged to Bernie Sanders.

A Norwin High School graduate who will attend the Democratic National Convention as a North Dakota delegate will have the opportunity to witness history, but not the event she was hoping to see as a supporter of Bernie Sanders.

When the convention opens July 25 in Philadelphia, it's likely Brannon M. Sever, 19, of North Huntingdon will see Hillary Clinton become the first woman nominated for president by one of the two major political parties.

A student at the University of North Dakota, Sever will be among 18 delegates from North Dakota — 13 supporting Sanders and five for Clinton.

Sever was a winner in a field of 73 candidates as a Sanders delegate from Grand Forks in the June 7 caucus. She went on to the state's Democratic convention in Bismarck on June 18, where she was elected one of nine Sanders delegates from about two dozen candidates.

“I was surprised and very honored to have been chosen to go to Philadelphia,” Sever said.

North Dakota has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, according to a spokesman for the state's Democratic Party.

Sever, the daughter of David and Anna Sever, said Sanders' supporters still can have an impact on the Democratic Party, though the liberal Vermont senator did not win enough delegates to square off against Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

“Getting his ideas on the (party) platform will help a lot of people,” said Sever, one of Sanders' 1,879 delegates to the convention.

Like many Sanders supporters, Sever has not warmed up to Clinton.

“She is not trustworthy, and her motivations are selfish, while his (Sanders') motivations are selfless,” she said.

Her journey to becoming a delegate began as a freshman last year at the Grand Forks university, where she initially went to study aviation. She switched her major to social work, with hopes of being a child welfare worker, and became politically active through her friends, Sever said.

Although Sanders' pledge to push for free tuition at public universities and colleges caught her attention, Sever said that was not the primary reason for her support.

“I feel that a lot of youths are behind him” because of issues such as social justice that Sanders is pushing, she said.

“Everyone in this country should get a fair shake, whether you are 9 or 90, regardless of your wealth,” she said.

Sever comes from political stock.

Her late maternal grandfather was active in politics from a social justice standpoint in the 1960s and 1970s in North Carolina.

A Presbyterian preacher, “he was very, very tough against segregation,” Sever said.

One of her high school teachers, Kevin Chitester, heightened Sever's interest in politics when she took an advanced placement course in U.S. government and politics.

“I was very vague about how government and politics worked. If I had not taken his class, I would not have been as politically involved or even know what a caucus was,” she said.

Sever, who plans to transfer to Boise State University in Idaho this fall to continue her studies, has not ruled out running for political office.

“It is important for everyone to be involved in politics,” she said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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