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Teen invited to Democratic debates by Beto O'Rourke plans to run for Houston City Council

MIAMI – A Houston teen was in the audience for the first Democratic debate in Miami Wednesday night.

Marcel McClinton, 17, graduated from Stratford High School three weeks ago and has already launched a career as a budding activist and politician.

He was invited to Miami by former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

How did you meet Beto?

"Beto O'Rourke and I built a relationship through his Senate race last year (McClinton was a campaign volunteer), and we kept in contact. I was in his HBO documentary film 'Running with Beto.' He's been supporting me in my Houston City Council race in Houston for at-large position 3 and they reached out last week to say, 'Hey, do you want to go to Miami for the debates?' And I said, 'Hell, yeah I want to go,' so here I am!"

How did you become an activist and decide to get involved in politics?

"I got involved in the gun violence prevention movement after the shooting outside of my church in 2016 and that led to co-organizing the Houston March for Our Lives as our first action coming out of the Parkland shooting. Then serving on Mayor Turner's gun task force for a year and then bridging that and running for public office and now supporting other candidates."

What are you hoping to hear from the candidates during the debates?

"I'm here not to only support Beto, my friend, but also looking at what these candidates are going to offer our city of Houston in regards to the platform I've built for our campaign; gun violence, human trafficking, flooding and climate change, homelessness and how their policy points will affect Houston is really important to me."

What's your message to other teenagers when it comes to politics and activism?

"Get involved in whatever way you can."