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Teen candidate faces skeptics

Odello running against C.V. incorporation

Herald Staff Writer
Updated: 08/16/2009 01:30:00 AM PDT

While many 18-year-olds are thinking about college or parties or their latest love interests, Carmel Valley resident Jacob Odello is concerned with beginning his political career.

After being contacted by longtime incorporation opponent Bob Sinotte in July, Odello made the decision in early August to throw his name in the ring for the Carmel Valley City Council.

"I want to be the voice of the future generation," said Odello about his candidacy for public office.
"Bob contacted me on July 29 and was trying to get a list of candidates opposed to incorporation together," Odello said. "My parents told him that I would be very interested in the position. I went to the Monterey County Elections Department and filed the paperwork to get on the ballot."

However, Odello did not initially consider putting his name on the ballot for fear that he would not be taken seriously.

"My mom said that I would be a laughingstock and no one would vote for me because of my age," he said. "But after a few weeks we decided to just do it and the reactions from both sides (of incorporation) have been great."

Odello's interest in politics began nearly a decade ago, when he began watching the news after the World Trade Center attacks.

"I started watching Lou Dobbs on CNN because it came on about the time that school was getting out," Odello explained. "I got interested watching the political leaders on television and watching what they did and I decided that I wanted to be that."

In addition to the news media, his family's long history in the area greatly influenced his decision to pursue a career in politics.

"The Odellos have been in this area for four generations," he said. "My grandfather served on the water board, and he used to tell me stories about the sense of community they had back then. I have always wanted to bring back that sense of community."

Although he is now focusing on serving as one of Carmel Valley's leaders, Odello has long been an opponent of the area's proposed incorporation.

"Incorporation should not happen because it is fiscally wrong," Odello said. "The Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis says that taxes will stay the same, but I just don't put my full trust into these reports; they are assumptions."

According to Odello, voters will strike down incorporation simply because no one wants to pay higher taxes, especially in these tight economic times.

Should Carmel Valley be incorporated, however, Odello plans to put aside his opinions and work to get the city moving in the right direction.

"If the city passes, which I do not want, I will give my 110 percent best to make sure the city works," he said. "I'm not going to say that I will vote for this and not for that, because I don't know what's going to happen yet."

As a member of the City Council, Odello also hopes to preserve the natural beauty of Carmel Valley and get young voters involved in the system.

"We have been very successful in getting young people to register," Odello said. "In 10 years or so, the people running the system now will be retired and it will be our responsibility to secure the future of the area."

As in any election in which a young person runs for office, Odello knows that he will have his share of skeptics.

"I am young, I'm not trying to get around that," Odello said. "But I have a lot more experience than the average 18-year-old. I have been to two national leadership seminars, and I have held several jobs in the public sector. But I know my age won't matter when it comes to how much effort I will put in."

For Odello, the road to his political future is beginning at a very early age and the lessons he has learned thus far in his campaign have been a great start.

"This has already been a great learning experience," He said. "This position will be a bit of a spring forward, as I hope to one day be president of the United States."

Last Updated: Aug 16, 09

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