updated 09/15/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 09/15/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Mark Abrams, 19, was not surprised when he became the youngest elected official in California—but possibly some of his constituency was. When he declared his candidacy for the Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education in 1979, Abrams simply omitted his age (then 17) from his flyers while truthfully pointing out that he had "lived in the district for more than 16 years." Abrams set up headquarters in his parents' Seal Beach house, hired a professional campaign manager and ultimately raised a war chest of $8,000. As high school senior buddies canvassed in support of their ambitious onetime class president, Abrams explained to voters that, being "a consumer of education" himself, he had "firsthand knowledge of what it is like in the district." With five seats open, he finished fourth among a dozen candidates. Living at home with his parents—both psychotherapists—Abrams has no trouble juggling sophomore classes at the University of Southern California, directing the reelection campaign of a state assemblyman and devoting 25 hours a week to the school board. "I don't get a lot of sleep," he admits, "but basically I'm enjoying doing the very best job I can. After all," he grins, "I can't start thinking about the Presidency for another 16 years."