February 13, 2012

The Political Musings of 17-Year Old Me

I'm working on a blog post right now for a non-partisan political non-profit (details to come!), and in doing my research, I had flashbacks to an article I wrote for the TX. section of the Standard-Examiner (my home newspaper) ten years ago (YIKES!! SO long ago!) about youth involvement in local government. (TX. was the weekly teen section.) Thanks to the help of my amazing friend Chris, I was able to access my article via the Weber County Library archives, thereby avoiding the $2.95 fee to access each of my articles on the Standard's website. I found the article I was looking for and thought I'd share it with all y'all on this here blog. This was one of two articles for which I received negative reader feedback that year (The other one was the April Fool's article I wrote about a fake Justin/Britney break-up! Oh, gosh, I'll have to dig that one up to share some time. Perhaps for April Fool's 2012?). There was even a letter to the editor written about this lil' article!

Anyway... I hope you enjoy these thoughts from the politically fired-up 17-year old me. For the record, 27-year old me still agrees with everything I wrote about the importance of young people being involved in local government. And I 100% support my points about the need for elected officials to listen to everyone's feedback, regardless of voting status. Happy reading! Let me know what you think. :o)

Teens have a voice in issues - By YÁNDARY ZAVALA - TX. Bonneville High School

Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT) - Monday, January 7, 2002

As a resident of my community, I believe I have the right to be involved with my local government, for the simple reason that I live here. The fact that I am "just a kid" and not old enough to vote should not affect how I am treated or how others respond to my views. 

But apparently, some people do not agree with me. 

As youth mayor of Riverdale's City Youth Government, I try to be involved with what goes on in my city. One of our youth government projects is hosting a "Meet the Candidate Night" every election year. Here, citizens ask candidates about topics they feel are important to the city. 

During the recent elections, building a senior citizen center in Riverdale was a big issue. A lot of the mayoral and council candidates said they supported the construction of a separate senior facility, but I personally felt an entire new facility was not needed. Senior programs, yes, but these could easily be implemented in existing buildings. 

Since most of the candidates' views were opposed to mine, I ventured to speak to several of them individually. I expected to be treated like any other serious citizen, but unfortunately, this was not the case. 

All of the candidates I spoke to laughed as they listened to my remarks, and one of them even ventured to say to me, "Even though you don't vote, I'll still listen to you." 

Even though I don't vote? Why should the fact that I'm not old enough to vote yet affect how my opinions are treated? Everyone, regardless of voting status, should be able to express his or her views regarding what goes on in his or her city. Although it was good that this candidate listened to me, he seems to have forgotten that youths' needs and concerns matter also, not just the concerns of older voters. 

Julia Meldrum, a Bonneville High senior and a youth adviser to the Riverdale youth government, says, "Through my interest and involvement, I know more about aspects of Riverdale than some here do. I feel that I have ideas and opinions that are more educated than a few of the "voters" of the city." 

Adults and elected officials should remember even though teens are younger, we aren't stupid. Those of us who are involved in city organizations are especially aware of what's happening in our city. 

Meldrum believes if elected officials don't listen to the youth, they are neglecting one of their most important responsibilities -- us. If officials ignore the younger generation, many teens will be discouraged from pursuing future leadership roles. But the officials will also jeopardize their own future. 

Yándary Zavala, a senior at Bonneville High School, plays the violin and viola. Her favorite quote is: "Welcome the task that takes you beyond yourself." She welcomes e-mail at ykarina60@hotmail.com.

1 comment:

  1. Solid article...funny how the 17 year old young politico of yesterday is the 27 year well connect DC insider :o)


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