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Hair today, Green tomorrow

October 01, 2004

Darleene Barrientos

One local politician Thursday came to Nick Doom's government class

at Clark Magnet High School in part to talk about his lack of hair.

That's not your usual spiel from a political candidate, but Phil

Koebel's not running your typical campaign.

The purpose of the unusual introduction was to set the Green Party

congressional candidate apart from his opponent, incumbent Rep. Adam

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Schiff (D-Glendale), who sports a full head of hair. Koebel is

campaigning to win Schiff's seat as a U.S. Representative for the

29th district, which covers nine cities including Glendale and La

Crescenta.

His lack of hair is what most students notice first, Koebel said.

"Do you know some bald politicians? Dwight Eisenhower was bald and

a recent governor from Minnesota [Jesse Ventura] was bald," he said

to the class.

Koebel was invited to the school by one of his campaign

volunteers, Clark Magnet student Sheila Massehian. Koebel's visit was

the second in a series of appearances by local candidates. Lynn

Gabriel, who is running against Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-La Canada

Flintridge), was the first to visit the class.

Doom, whose classroom is festooned with political memorabilia like

bumper stickers, lawn signs, magazine covers and books, said he tries

to coordinate the political visits in October, when the incumbents

are not in session. Having their challengers come in was a good

beginning, he said.

"It gives students an opportunity to meet a politician and a

candidate in person, not through a TV commercial or some [campaign]

literature," he said.

As part of their study of government, Doom directed his students

to work on a political campaign.

For Koebel, the visit was a chance to coordinate with his student

volunteers, as well as speak to the students who are learning about

the political process. Koebel spoke briefly about the Green Party's

goals for a shift to instant runoff elections -- where voters who

initially vote for a third-party candidate can later pick their

second choice out of the two major parties -- but talked more about

his platform, which is centralized around equal access to education

for everyone and affordable housing.

"Smart kids, not smart bombs," he said. "To me, every school

should be like Clark Magnet."

Many of the students in the class are not old enough to vote Nov.

2, but Koebel's visit left the students with an impression of the

candidate.

"He put forward some good points, especially about affordable

housing," 17-year-old Justin McNeal said.

Illya Williams, 16, said she had understood Koebel's difficulty of

campaigning against a candidate, like Schiff, from a major party.

"I think it was interesting, what he came to say," she said. "I

understand it's hard to run against someone who's already in there,

but I still think he should be given a chance."

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