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Teen enjoys political participation Robert Moreno | Sat, Nov 16 2013 12:00 PM

In National City’s Council Chamber there are seven occupied seats on the dais. Elected officials sit on five of the seats, and one seat is where the appointed city manager sits, the other chair is for the city attorney.

Seated slightly below the dais and to the left of the city manager is a seat for Kane Gillego.

Gillego is getting her first dose of the political world as part of National City’s student representative program.

Although her participation on the council is very limited, she said she is learning the political ropes.

“I’ve always been around to help out community service-wise but I wanted to get behind the action because I’ve always been into the whole political side,” she said.

Gillego said watching the mayor and council members in action made her realize how much work actually goes into running a city.

“There’s a lot more to it than just them saying yes or no,” she said.

Her service as a student representative, she said, provides a different perspective and an understanding of why certain ordinances and policies get passed while others don’t.

The 17-year-old has yet to chime in at council meetings, although she said she has the ability to.

She said she prefers to listen to what’s going on during the meetings while soaking up the experience.

The senior from Sweetwater High School is an active member of the student body. Gillego is the 2014 class president and serves the Associated Student Body.

Her time in the student council program has reshaped the way she thinks when it comes to decision making for the students she represents.

“You have to think of not just what would please you but what would help the entire community as a whole,” she said.
Gillego shows up every other Tuesday to the 6 p.m. council meetings, she cannot stay later than 8:30 p.m. under the program’s terms.

Once Gillego completes the program, she will receive a laptop from the city to assist her with her college coursework.

Student representatives receive community service credit for their service; no grade is given for participation in the program.

City Clerk Mike Dalla spearheads the program.

He said the program gives students firsthand experience into government.

“The program opens their eyes to the government process in particular at the local level,” Dalla said.

The student council program originated in 2003 with the purpose of providing a student’s view on actions and decisions the City Council acts on and to serve as a liaison between students and City Council members.

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