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20-Year-Old Running For Mayor Of Plum

PLUM BORO (KDKA) -- "As you know, I'm running for mayor of Plum."

Joe Tommarello, 20, is drumming up support for his campaign.

"I'm going door-to-door today to talk to the citizens, and get a few ideas from them."

He canvasses the neighborhood like a seasoned politician, which is not much of a stretch. The sophomore at Robert Morris University has already served two years on the Plum Borough school board.

"It was senior year, I was still in high school when I started the campaign for the primary in January and February," he recalls.

But a race for mayor?

Even if he gets past two strong opponents in the Republican primary, he says, "There's never been a Republican mayor of Plum. The odds are against me."

But he is well acquainted with uphill struggles.

He may be "running" now, but two years ago he couldn't even walk. A sledding accident, on a hill behind his house, left him temporarily paralyzed.

"I felt a burning sensation down my legs, and I couldn't move, from my waist down," Tommarello says. "And after lying in the snow about 20 minutes, not being able to move, I was screaming. My friends finally called an ambulance. I walked myself up out of the woods; they took me to Children's Hospital and said, 'Joe, you shattered your spine.'"

After surgery, the 14-year-old patient would spend four months in the hospital. Thanks to rehab, he soon was up and walking.

Six years after that life changing accident, he says he looks forward to "finishing up school, three weeks left. And after we get out in early May, I'll begin to start my ground game. Knocking on doors. And I hope to get 2,000 doors in three weeks."

After all, he's not getting any younger.

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