Syracuse youth council will learn from, assist Common Council

Dec 8, 2016

The Syracuse Common Council will create a youth advisory council to get more young people involved with local government. The youth council will also give councilors the chance to hear what problems young people face in the city.

Common Council President Van Robinson said the youth council will help young people learn more about city hall.  

“I have run across many of our students, who have absolutely no idea what government is all about and are totally oblivious to the fact that we live in a Democratic society,” Robinson said.

Councilor Helen Hudson said it will give young people a voice in the city.

"We can't run around and tell folks what they need to do, especially the young people," Hudson said. "I'm not young. We need to talk to the youth. We need to understand the youth. And we need to hear from them on what they need to move forward."

Councilor Joe Carni was the only councilor to vote against creating the youth council.

“I just don’t believe that we have to spend additional tax dollars on this," Carni said. "It’s only going to be an increasing cost.”

The Common Council is budgeting $5,000 for the youth council which will go towards a trip to Albany in the spring. Councilor Jean Kessner said councilors will pick young people from the different districts of the city in January.

“So we want it to be young people meeting people that they didn’t know," Kessner said. "Also when you’re sitting on the south side thinking these are my problems and the northeast side is like, ‘I didn’t know about that problem,’ I think they will see the city in a different way. It's just our honest, genuine attempt to engage young people in the very serious business of running city government.”

Applications will be sent to Syracuse city schools but any 14 to 19-year-old living in Syracuse can apply. Kessner said she hopes the experience will inspire someone from the youth council to run for office one day.