Utica Gets First Look At Proposed Youth Common Council
The City of Utica got its first look at the recently proposed Youth Common Council during an informal meeting at St. Francis DeSales School.
More than 20 people and seven of the city’s nine Common Council members attended the open forum to meet with the students and discuss what their role would be.
The students range from 14 to 17 years old, and come from different Utica wards, mirroring their counterparts. Each has also shown leadership within their community and have a keen interest in politics.
Councilman Jerome McKinsey helped to organize the Youth Common Council. He says this could be the beginning of a bright future.
“They’ll have the authority of input,” McKinsey said. “They’re going to be the voice of the youth. They’re going to look at legislation situations within the city from the youth point of view, which is something the Common Council never had.”
Delvin Moody, 17, helped McKinsey to establish the council, and says there are opportunities for both groups to learn from one another and work together.
“There is a need for youth involvement in the city,” Moody said. “There is a need for youth to be a part of local government and of decision making, as well as that educational microcosm of youth. So, I think to have leadership -local officials- to support us, I think that’s major.”
Moody isn’t the only one with a strong connection to civicism. When Trinh Truong, 15, was asked to participate as a charter member, she knew she could do something great for Utica. She says it’s everyone’s job to make the city they live in thrive.
“When we grow up in a few years, we’ll be the generation that’s voting,” Truong said. “We’ll be the people that are putting people in office; we might even be some of the people in office. I think it’s really important to bring back the understanding and the connect between people and politics, and to just generally bring back the sense of civic humanism.”
McKinsey also says this may be the first youth council in New York State, and is modeled off a similar group in Milwaukee.
“I told them to be very excited, they’re blazing the trails,” McKinsey said. “I told them that a lot of our leaders are going to want to meet them and talk with them. When this falls on the ears of the leaders, I asked the leaders to take the first step and stick your hand out and introduce yourself to the youth council, and welcome them in to part of the process.”
The Common Council will vote on the formation of the Youth Common Council this Wednesday. It is expected to have full support.