In 2008 I chaired the subcommittee for the Creation of the Ithaca Youth Council and led the legislation through Common Council. I still sit on the Ithaca Youth Council advisory board.
I felt passionately about the Youth Council for three reasons. First, my experience as a tutor and mentor for young men and women in Ithaca has convinced me that young people have the energy and creativity necessary for the problems we are facing today – and the problems we will face tomorrow. Giving young people an opportunity to lead right now will provide them with the communication and decision-making skills they will need to lead in the future.
Second, the Youth Council is necessary because the City of Ithaca itself is extremely young. Young people and university students make up a significant percentage of the population – and without their input we cannot possibly govern effectively. I spent a significant amount of time in the high school before I was elected and I heard information from students on a daily basis that took months or years to reach the appropriate sources of power. That was no way for a democratic government to function.
Lastly, my own involvement at a relatively young age has convinced me that civic service is a great way to combat the so-called ‘Brain Drain’. The Brain Drain is a term coined to describe the flowing of young talented minds out of upstate New York into New York City or out of state entirely. Our local economies have struggled as a result of this exodus.
I’m 24 years old, and many people my age have had opportunities to leave the area in search of employment. But I’ve stayed in the area because, since high school, I have been given one opportunity after another to engage in public service. People in high places, mentors, and public servants, have trusted me to contribute to the community. Once a young person experiences that – I believe they will be bonded to their community for a very long time.
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