Otto Tielemans proud to be a “new-born Republican” and Strickland intern


Glenda Marshall

Foothill senior Otto Tielemans sacrificed to volunteer as an intern for Tony Strickland, who is running for Congress in Ventura County. Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press
Foothill senior Otto Tielemans sacrificed to volunteer as an intern for Tony Strickland, who is running for Congress in Ventura County. Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Otto Tielemans is perfecting his Bill Clinton impression. Well, that and writing letters to the editor, answering numerous phone calls, and giving political speeches throughout Ventura County.

All are part of 17-year-old Tielemans’s new internship for the Tony Strickland campaign.

“You think internship and you expect it to be very strict but you get this kinship that you never expected,” the Foothill senior said. “Parts of it are humorous and comical but you also get this real sense of an election. I have learned so much. It is really amazing.”

Lauren Rowlands, the Volunteers Coordinator for the Tony Strickland campaign, believes Otto is a dedicated and hardworking intern.

“Otto is always organizing things in the office and I don’t even have to explain to him to do things. He will just do them and do them well,” Rowlands said.

Tielemans, a Ventura resident who identifies himself as a conservative, started interning for Strickland’s campaign September 4.

“I always like to call myself a Newborn Republican, you know, like a Newborn Christian just for political views,” Tielemans said. 

Due to conflict of interest, Tielemans was forced to give up his opinion editorship at the Foothill Dragon Press when he began interning for Strickland, however, Tielemans felt it was time for the opinion section to “start a new chapter” and felt confident passing on his position.

“I felt like the opinion section was strong enough that I could transfer the power to someone else and follow a campaign that I feel is vital to our community,” Tielemans said. {sidebar id=62}
“I didn’t even know he had applied for the internship until he had gotten it,” Foothill Dragon Press editor-in-chief Rachel Crane said. “He shows a great deal of initiative and is a great model editor, but he felt that [the internship] was more relevant to his career path.”

Among Tieleman’s reasons for joining the campaign was his connection with Strickland’s stances on international relations, Tieleman’s strongest passion.

“ [International relations] has been my biggest passion throughout the years. I am always excited about the interactions between countries and how that affects the universe as a whole,” Tielemans said.

Tielemans even attended a program at Georgetown University this past summer for students interested in international relations. Teenagers from all around the world attended to discuss political issues.

“There were kids from Russia, Japan, Switzerland. There was even a girl from Ethiopia,” Tielemans said.

In addition to his internship, Tielemans is a member of Amnesty International and Amazon Watch. At home, with friends, and at church, Tielemans discusses political issues in order to spread awareness.

Coming from a conservative household, Tielemans believes his parents influence his views on social issues. However, he believes he has developed his own opinions on economic topics.

“Through my reading and through looking at the world and the economic policies put in place I have shaped my own policies about the economy,” Tielemans said.

Tielemans hopes that working for Strickland’s campaign will aid him in the future and confirm his enthusiasm for international relations.

“I hope that I am victorious in reaffirming my conservative beliefs and my desires and passions, especially in foreign relations,” Tielemans said. “I hope that it becomes a big part of my life when I grow up.”

Editor’s Note: As part of a collaborative project with other high school journalism programs, this article was prepared by Dragon Press staff for the Ventura County Star to use in its special high school election package October 28, 2012.

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