Tight election heightens Ferriday teenager’s interest in politics

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2000

FERRIDAY, La. – Joseph Odenwald spent much of Wednesday watching election results scroll across a television in the Huntington School library.

&uot;I was nervous all day yesterday,&uot; the 18-year-old from Ferriday said, pausing to catch a breaking news report.

But, for Odenwald the tight election only served to heighten a lifelong interest in the political process.

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That interest combined with leadership qualities is evident to his peers, who voted him as president of the Beta Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the student council and the Huntington senior class.

The Daughters of the American Revolution also recently named Odenwald a &uot;Good Citizen&uot; and have entered him into a national scholarship competition.

A straight-A student, Odenwald also finds time to work two afterschool jobs — one as a mentor with the Department of Health and Human Services.

While plans for the future reach as far as a theological degree from Louisiana College, Odenwald is openly seeking a way to connect an intense love of God and country.

&uot;You hear a lot of talk about family values, and I’m pro-family values.&uot; he said. &uot;In my lifetime, if I’m blessed in years, I want to have an effect on family values in this country.&uot;

Odenwald said he is accustomed to people, peers and adults alike, remarking on the maturity of his thoughts and opinions. While other teens are discussing weekend plans, Odenwald prefers bigger issues.

&uot;I’ve never fit into that picture,&uot; Odenwald said. &uot;I’d rather be running a food drive.&uot;

&uot;I’m more comfortable in a tie and coat and shaking people’s hands,&uot; he said.

Warnings that his idealism and energy will fade with time have yet to deter Odenwald from his goals.

&uot;I’m not scared,&uot; he said simply.

&uot;If people give me a chance and it falls into God’s plans I want to make people take a look at family values,&uot; he said. &uot;I want everybody from every walk of life to feel like what they do matters and we’re all on the same team.&uot;

&uot;Lastly, I want to prove the saying that good guys finish dead last is false,&uot; Odenwald said.

Odenwald is the son of Jay Odenwald of Ferriday and Valda Hill of Clayton.