A Gallente-born Minmatar, Kelen Ontbad was a presidential candidate in the election of early YC117. A renown artist who gained fame by making political events accessible and engaging to the general public, Ontbad entered political life himself, gaining significant support during tensions between Gallente and Minmatar in YC115.
Kelen was born in Colelie to Minmatar expatriates of Vherokior heritage in YC79. His career started at 17 when the senator of his sub-district, a patron of the arts that had noticed his work while touring schools, provided Ontbad space to exhibit his work in a major exhibition. Each piece was an interpretation of current affairs that attracted widespread critical praise and entered the media after it served as the catalyst for an unprecedented level of political engagement from the general population. Ontbad's name was mentioned in the Gallente Senate as being responsible for "promoting active and responsible political involvement amongst his district's constituency". As his exhibition wound down he was being invited to speak in schools as a "success story" who could inspire disaffected and disengaged Gallente youth, particularly in schools of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Coverage of these events turned into an examination of the number of expatriate Minmatar in these regions. Kelen's exhibitions started to showcase the plight of the lower classes while continuing to act as a critique of political events in Colelie, the wider Federation and the Minmatar Republic.
Ontbad received a scholarship to attend the University of Caille studying modern art, holography and politics. The university used a number of his installations and artworks as the centrepieces for public events and Ontbad contributed regularly to his campus publication, offering his opinions on current affairs.
Kelen's profile as an artist was brought to wider attention in the Federation after a proposal for a holographic work of his was contracted for display in the Algintal Complex, a sprawling parliamentary building that was being constructed in the Colelie system. It was the unveiling of this work that led to his frequent association with political identities, and he spent subsequent years forming close associations with prominent Gallente who used him as a poster-child for positive interactions with Minmatar voters.
Kelen Ontbad had been present at the Luminaire Center for Culture and The Arts in the city of Caille during the attack by lone gunman Gerne Broteau that claimed 59 lives, including that of Sebiestor Tribal Chief and former Republic Prime Minister, Karin Midular. Ontbad had been sitting in the front row of the inaugural address and, like many others, had leapt up on hearing the initial explosions around the building at the beginning of the attack. Images used during Broteau's subsequent trial also launched Ontbad into the public eye when footage being reviewed of Midular's fatal injury also captured Kelen's actions. He was shown pushing people behind him when the shooting began until he himself was clipped in the shoulder. Two still images were widely circulated - one depicting Ontbad with arms outstretched to try and shield those behind him and another as he spun with the force of his own injury. Requests were made that these images were no longer published as they were considered in poor taste, but they captured the public's imagination and catapulted Ontbad's popularity despite his own initial reluctance to have them used. He would later turn the second image into a virtual artwork entitled Dance of Integration, where a loop of his spinning form was juxtaposed amidst Gallente and Matari dancers and music from a Matari funeral ceremony.
When tensions rose as Minmatar asked for Karin Midular and her shooter to be turned over to them, Ontbad became a singular voice in the Algintal constellation, calling for mediation and calm. With an election taking place in his sub-district soon after the Colelie Incident in YC115, Ontbad's profile meant that he won the senate seat in a landslide.
Ontbad's bid for presidential office in YC117 was distinguished by a large investment in a digital campaign, inserting his avatar into virtual environments. His first foray was into the shared creative entertainment space of Vormwire, a virtual reality experiment popular amongst Gallente youth that he had already used extensively. He announced his candidacy in a holorally that involved him later entering the Vormwire after a speech at the Algintal Complex to illustrate his campaign further.
After a great deal of success with this event he expanded into other virtual entertainments. The results were mixed, especially since these subsequent appearances were often pre-recorded speeches and presentations instead of live appearances and as a result were oftentimes forced upon audiences. Ontbad attracted particular criticism for appearing in the ready room of the violent shooter TACNET, addressing players about reducing cultural tensions between Minmatar and Gallente. There was a significant backlash and Ontbad ended up having his virtual form destroyed by assault rifle fire approximately 7297 times by players protesting political campaigning in a space that they used for escapism. The endeavour was soon shut down.
Ontbad came in third in the running with 5.1% of the presidential vote behind the much stronger support for Jacus Roden (54.2%) and Shaileen Ramnev (39.7%).