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Palo Alto teen wins Obama essay contest

The California presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has announced that Molly Kawahata, a senior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, beat out peers from across Northern California to win the campaign’s essay contest “What it would mean to me if Barack Obama were elected our next President.”

As the contest’s winner, Kawahata will be among the speakers at the candidate’s grassroots fundraiser this Wednesday evening at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium — an event the campaign says will be his last visit to Northern California until after the Iowa caucuses.

The essay contest entries were judged by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon of Berkeley, who with his wife, author Ayelet Waldman, had cosponsored an Obama fundraiser in Oakland back in June. “All these essays show the powerful sense of connection young people feel to Barack Obama, because he is directly addressing their deepest concerns, their most powerful hopes, and the boundless idealism that is their greatest resource,” Chabon said in a news release.

Kawahata, formerly a student member of the Palo Alto Unified School District Board, has been involved with the Obama campaign’s grassroots organizing in Anna Eshoo‘s 14th Congressional District.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.