Charboneau selected to be Senate page

Published 12:09 am Thursday, September 3, 2009

NATCHEZ — While the rest of the nation is watching the U.S. Senate on C-SPAN, Martin Charboneau will be watching it from the middle of the fray.

That’s because the 16-year-old Cathedral School junior will, starting Monday, be a Senate page until Jan. 22.

Pages are essentially federally employed aides who deliver correspondence, legislative material and take messages for the senators.

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The road to Martin’s selection to be a page began when he met Sen. Thad Cochran last spring during a literary festival. When a friend of Martin’s mother asked him if he knew about the page program, Martin spoke with Cochran’s aide about it.

“I thought it sounded great, because I want to go into politics,” he said.

From there, he had to write an essay about why he saw himself as a page.

“I kept procrastinating writing it, and then one night — for no reason — I couldn’t sleep, so I stayed up until 5 in the morning writing it,” Charboneau said.

Only 30 applicants were to be selected, and Charboneau said he didn’t think he would be one of them.

“It feels good to be chosen, because there are only 30 of them — that’s not even one for every state,” he said.

As a page, Charboneau’s day will start when he wakes up at 5 a.m. and puts on his page uniform, a navy blue suit and tie with a white, long-sleeve dress shirt.

He’ll attend four 30-minute classes from 6:15 to 8:15 a.m., grab a quick breakfast after that and head directly to the capital building, where he will be working on the floor running errands.

“I’ve told a few people it’s kind of like boot camp that looks really good on a résumé,” Charboneau said.

When he’s not on the senate floor, he will be working for Cochran.

And as a page, he will have access to the Senate cloakroom, where only senators, their top aides and pages are allowed.

“They go in there to have a moment of privacy,” he said. “It’s the one place they can escape from the press.”

The thing he is most looking forward to is being present when the proposed healthcare reforms are being debated on the floor, Charboneau said.

“When that’s going on, it’s (going to be) the center of the universe,” he said. “Everybody will be watching.”

He also said he’s looking forward to the chance to meet John McCain and John Kerry.

The page program pays approximately $440 a week, and Charboneau will have to pay $750 a month for his board.

Martin’s mother, Regina Charboneau, said she’s excited for him to be able to participate in the page program.

“I think it is going to be a wonderful experience for him to see how Washington really works,” she said.

“We’re very excited and very proud of him.”

Martin is also the son of Doug Charboneau.