“Teens on Community Boards” Resolution Unanimously Passes Through NYC Council Committee on Governmental Operations

 “Teens on Community Boards” Resolution Unanimously Passes Through NYC Council Committee on Governmental Operations
Manhattan Borough President Brewer and Council Members Kallos, Levine, Torres and Vacca urge passage of Albany bills before session ends

New York, NY – City Council Resolution 115 to support allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to serve on their local community boards passed through the City Council Committee on Governmental Operations today in a unanimous vote of the Committee's five members. The successful vote for resolution, co-sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos, Ritchie Torres, Mark Levine and James Vacca, and introduced at the request of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, signals New York City’s support of Senate bill S04142, sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza and Assembly bill A02448sponsored by Assembly Member Nily Rozic, which would amend the Public Officers Law and City Charter to allow youth to serve. 
The City Council resolution is also sponsored by Council Members Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Andrew Cohen, Costa Constantinides, Andy King, Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, Deborah Rose, James Van Bramer, Rosie Mendez, Carlos Menchaca, Donovan Richards and James Vacca and will now be voted on by the full body on June 11, 2014.
The suggestion of lowering the age of eligibility to become a full voting member of the board was made by Borough President Brewer at a Governmental Operations Committee hearing on Community Board reform and was included in Council Member Ben Kallos’ report resulting from that hearing: “
Improving Community Boards in New York City: Best Practices for Recruitment and Appointment to New York City’s 59 Community Boards.” City Comptroller Scott Stringer served on a community board at age 16, his entry into public life.
“I have worked with hundreds of interns over the years and have seen first-hand the meaningful role that young people can play in shaping policy and enhancing our neighborhoods. Allowing young people to become Community Board members would benefit the Boards by adding a youth perspective, diverse skills sets and by increasing the breadth of community representation. It would also promote civic participation among our youth," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

“Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds bring much-needed perspective, energy and commitment to their local Community Boards. I have been deeply impressed by the dynamism of the teenagers who have expressed interest in public service through Community Boards, and they should be empowered to assist their neighbors instead of prevented from participating in public life,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.
“Community Boards are intended to be the voice of our neighborhoods, and as such it is important to recognize that teenagers bring a very important perspective to so many issues, from schools and parks to transportation and development. I was privileged to get a seat at that table at a young age, and I am thrilled that through this legislation more of our young people will get a chance to be active participants in the life of our great city,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“Community boards represent an opportunity for citizens to serve their communities and engage in civic discourse,” said Senator Andrew Lanza, sponsor of the legislation in the Senate. “There are many sixteen and seventeen-year-olds who are ready, willing and able to participate as full community board members and who can offer a fresh perspective on the issues and direction of our community."
"Our democracy works best when everyone participates. Getting young people involved is crucial to ensuring a true representation of our community at all levels," said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who sponsors state legislation to expand youth participation on community boards. "Community board membership for teenagers is a common sense step we can take to engage young New Yorkers with the democratic process.”
"Our bright and talented sixteen and seventeen-year-olds need a venue where they can voice their concerns and ideas for improving our neighborhoods. The community board process provides such an outlet and would greatly benefit from their injection of exuberance, a can-do attitude, and the kind of creativity that only young people bring to the table," said Council Member Mark Levine. "By creating opportunities for additional youth to join our boards, we also will help the next generation of leaders grasp the virtues of public service at a formative age and impart in them the skills to navigate the many challenges they will face in the coming years.”

“We need to do more to provide meaningful opportunities for young people to participate in the civic life of our city," said Council Member Ritchie Torres, the youngest member of the New York City Council. “Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds can hold jobs and pay taxes, and we need to recognize them as legitimate stakeholders and give them a voice in decision making processes that directly affect them.”

“Thank you to the NYC Council for moving the 0115-2014 Resolution forward.  You are helping to engineer a new cornerstone in city governance, and a new compact with young, emerging civic stakeholders.  By allowing fully vetted 16 and 17 year olds to sit at the table on advisory bodies across our city, you acknowledge and validate what youth agencies and CBOs have known for years -- Teen civic contributions develop their own social efficacy and move communities forward,” said Al Kurland of the Police Athletic League.
“The future and well-being of our City is dependent upon building the leadership capacity of our youth; Their voices and perspectives should be included at the community board table now,” said Evie Hantzopoulos, Executive Director of Global Kids and member of Community Board 1 in Queens.
“We should continue to hold community boards and their members to high expectations. Expanding the opportunity to 16- and 17-year olds allows our communities to benefit from the insight and energy of our youth, to identify and train future civic leaders from an early age, and to renew the conversation on civic participation and responsibility in our neighborhoods and, with young people engaged in the conversation, in our schools,” said Sarah Andes of Generation Citizen.