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Front Page » August 3, 2006 » Youth Focus » Youth government bodies provide alternate perspective
Published 2,820 days ago

Youth government bodies provide alternate perspective


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By LES BOWEN
Sun Advocate reporter

While teenagers in Carbon County have a number of entertainment and recreation options at their disposal, one of the venues missing is a miniature golf course. Surveys and research spanning more than a year have come from the county's youth commission resulting in an effort to bring a miniature golf course to the area. Such a course is in the planning phases for possible construction at the fairgrounds. Youth governing bodies provide perspective from younger segments of the population. These younger voices are largely absent from the political arena, in part because many are younger than the legal voting age. A larger concern for many elected officials is that younger members of the population are often indifferent when it comes to politics.

Politics is a game often played by adults. In both the national and state arena, the number of candidates under 30 is extremely few.

Similarly voter turnout is strongest for seniors and baby boomers. College students and young parents are among the least likey voters to show up to the polls.

Asking a young person a political question or asking what's going on in governments is like asking a retiree for help with a computer issue or their opinion on the latest release of cellular phone.

Certain demographics have certain interests. But some cross the line. Just as some seniors know about the latest techonology and can do more than check their email, some young people are getting involved and active in politics.

One of those ways is by participating in youth councils and commissions. Both Price city and Carbon County support the activities of youth city councils and county commissions.

In Price, the youth council is comprised of a mayor and councilmembers, just like elected officials.

For Carbon County, the youth commission is comprised of many more members than just the three commissioners. But just like the county commission, certain members of the commission act as executive members and conduct meetings.

On a state level, Utah 4-H sponsors a mock legislature. In its 14th year, the mock legislature included an 88-member assembly with three foreign exchange students.

The American Legion's Boys' State and Girls' State programs allow high school students to participate in a mock government, with elected members going on to Boys' Nation and Girls' Nation.

Multiple organizations sponsor youth congresses and similar councils. And many groups sponsor mock versions of the United Nations and other international bodies.

Many of these groups work to sway the lawmaking process. For many of the state and national organizations, the outcome of mock legislatures and congresses are forwarded to lawmakers who then push for the bills to be made into actual laws.

On a local level, the youth commission and youth city council act more as an advisory board to their elected counterparts.

For example, the Carbon County youth commission two years ago began exploring options on how to create a new entertainment venue that would be attractive to teenagers in the area.

The youth commission surveyed segments of the young local population and determined that one of the most requested new entertainment venues was a miniature golf course.

Last year, the youth commission presented the outcome of the survey to commissioners and began looking for possible sites to build a miniature golf course.

Both elected officials and young commissioners looked at a number of sites that could be used. Among the possible sites, they looked at locations near the golf course and other locations around the county. The most favorable location is at the county fairgrounds.

The youth commission has also looked at options for purchasing the necessary equipment to build the course and provided details and cost estimates to elected officials.

Now the youth commission is looking at the next steps relating to planning the venue at its chosen location.

The Price youth council functions in a similar manner, providing a younger point of view to elected officials.

Adult advisors for both groups have recently explained that once members are selected, the youth boards will continue with previous initiatives and work to create new functions.

Each year, the members of the council and commission are selected through an application process. Eligible applicants are given the opportunity to serve a second year.

These incumbent members provide the necessary carryover to keep initiatives rolling.

New members add insight to help the process become better.

The county youth commission recently selected new members to function through the 2006-2007 term.

Price city's youth council is in the process of selecting its new members.

At a recent county commission meeting, commissioners Steven Burge, Bill Krompel and Michael Milovich all commended the members of the youth council for their involvement.

Milovich pointed out that the political arena is generally made up of the older members of the public. He explained that those who get involved inthe political process actually make a difference.

Krompel said that in his years involved in politics, he has noticed an apparent lack of young faces at party caucus meetings and other party gatherings. He said that as the older participants in the political process leave the arena, that new faces will be needed.

He encouraged those who were involved in the youth commission to remain active in the political process, more than just voting once they reached the legal age.

And more important than being in the spotlight, Milovich said the greatest moments are when elected officials can see that they have done something for the public good and have made individual lives better.

He explained that those moments, make all the trouble of getting to that point worth the effort.


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