16-Year-Old Runs for City Council

Will be 18 by election day next year

While most 16-year-olds are focused on their next video game fix or how to wrangle the keys from their parents for a weekend outing, one Fremont, Calif. student has his eyes on a different kind of prize.

Ishan Shah has announced his candidacy for Fremont City Council.  The election is in 2010. 

Now, there is no way to know how this story will end yet, but it sure started like a Disney movie. Picture a group of students meeting at a coffee house on a Friday night debating whether a student candidate for city council was practical idea.  Other patrons are drawn in to the discussion which ends with a fiery speech and a standing ovation from strangers and friends alike as the candidate signs the official 501 form declaring his intent to run.

Shah is 16 today, but will be the required 18 by election day.

The Mission High School junior certainly looks like he's taking the effort seriously.  He has a Web site, an exploratory committee and two published position papers.

"I am a product of life in the city of Fremont, therefore I can actually connect with what this city needs. I just need to convince people that I offer a higher level of accessibility than my opponents," Shah said.

Shah credits his parents for inspiring him to follow his dreams, but he also gives a nod to California Congressman Pete Stark, whom Shah served as an intern in Stark's East Bay office last fall.  He says the internship gave him a glimpse of what it takes to be an elected official.

Shah will play to his strengths by launching a "rigorous" voter registration drive in an effort to get more youth involved.

He says he thinks he will be going against the two incumbents who won easily in 2006. Bill Harrison got 28,642 votes and Anu Natarajan got 23,492.  Shah is clearly going to have to go out of his clique in order to compete with those numbers.

As they say in television: stay tuned.

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