SILive.com City Council passes resolution urging state to allow minors to serve on community boards by Jillian Jorgensen
CITY HALL - The City Council passed a resolution Wednesday urging the state legislature to allow 16 and 17-year-old New Yorkers to serve on community boards.
"Twenty percent of our city is under 18, and our youth deserve a voice on their local community boards," Councilman Ben Kallos, lead sponsor of the resolution, said.
While the resolution passed, it doesn't actually allow the youngsters to be able to serve as appointed members of community boards yet - it simply urges the state Assembly and Senate to pass legislation.
The issue has bi-partisan support in Albany, Kallos noted, where a bill in the senate is sponsored by Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island).
Staten Island's Council delegation was in the support of the push for younger members of the boards.
"Anytime we can bring engaged young people and provide a fresh perspective to government, I think, is beneficial," Councilman Steven Matteo said. "These are our future leaders and we want to hear their perspective as it relates to local community issues."
City Council Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore) said those young people will be the stewards of their communities in short order.
"I think the community boards ought to have the input of all residents of the district, and that includes young adults," Ignizio said. "Young people that are interested in their communities is a positive thing for everyone, so we should hear what they think about what's going on in the community."
Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore), a former Community Board 1 member, said she loved the idea.
"I find most people in the community really don't have a sense of what city government is about, what it does," Ms. Rose said. "And as a result of being on the community board, it was my entrée -- it's entry level city government. And it helps to pick up some of the slack that students experience in our schools now by (schools) no longer teaching civics."