Mayoral candidate Ellen Zoppo-Sassu released a statement saying “With high school graduation this week, Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, Democratic candidate for Mayor, announced her first platform item today – a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) with the purpose of engaging young people in community issues.
The purpose of this Council will be to give Bristol’s young leaders an opportunity to provide advice, recommendations, and information to the Mayor and City Council, as well as give youth members the opportunity to get involved with areas that may interest them, such as Parks & Recreation, Planning and Zoning, Energy & Environment, Public Safety, Finance, community social service needs, and historic preservation, to name a few.
Traditionally young people do not have an active voice in government and decisions that affect them. Because of this, they have limited exposure or opportunity to affect change in the city that they will someday inherit.
“The Board of Education has two non-voting student members who participate at meetings,” stated Zoppo-Sassu. “This new Council would meet as its own committee, but I would eventually like to see youth members serve as non-voting liaisons to our own municipal boards and commissions similar as to how the Board of Education uses their student members.”
“I am always impressed with the questions I am asked by kids in our community,” stated Zoppo-Sassu. “I hope they will be enthusiastic about the opportunity to be involved and learn about policies and decision-making. Eventually, I would like to use this group to bring back the annual Student Government Day event where the high schools would elect a mayor and city council, as well as department heads, and the students would then shadow their City Hall position for a day to see the job that person and department is responsible for on a first-hand basis.”
The YLC will be chaired by an appointee of the Mayor and include youth ages 10-17 who express interest in the position. All voting members of the Council will be appointed for a term of two years. Anyone who is 18 and registered to vote is eligible to serve on municipal boards.
As part of her campaign, Zoppo-Sassu has a group of young leaders serving as her “backyard cabinet” who talk about issues that are important to them. The group is comprised of youth ranging in age from elementary school to college students. “I used to attend Board of Finance meetings with my dad when I was very young,” stated Zoppo-Sassu. “This sparked my interest in government and how things worked. I think the Youth Leadership Council will be a way to engage today’s youth – which is a generation that now has so much information at their fingertips – to become involved, invested, and feel as if they have a say in their city.”
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