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Mayor's Council Empowers Students

Mayor's Youth Advisory Council
Smithville High School students are looking past the walls of the school and focusing on the community as part of their involvement in the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC). The group’s main goal is to advocate on behalf of the younger citizens and seek solutions to issues defined by them.

“Just because a kid cannot vote doesn’t mean they are not important to the city, and it’s way past time that we let them know we appreciate them,” said Mayor Scott Saunders. “Their voice matters.”

With their joint effort and with the Mayor involved, the youth message now has an official pathway to be heard.

“I want to have a career in politics,” said MYAC student Mark Harkrider. “I’m learning about how to be a better communicator, and I’m getting a real feel for small town politics.”

Saunders’ goal is to empower youth to become active members of the community, and organizing a youth council was a perfect fit for Mayor Saunders, a former Smithville Tiger, student council member and the youngest Smithville City Councilman elected at age 26, and Mayor at the age of 26.

He saw how other communities listened to their youth in making decisions and decided that this was needed in Smithville also.

Saunders learned more about youth councils at a 2016 Texas Municipal League conference, a requirement for government officials, in which youth summit was also occurring. He said he learned how to set up a youth advisory council, how to recruit and how the committee functions.

His next step was contacting teacher and Student Council Advisor Ms. Leona Jones, who shares his goal. They opened up applications last year to juniors and seniors, and have a roster of 18 involved.

“These students have shared concerns they have about the development of our town and feel comfortable discussing them with Mayor Saunders,” said Ms. Jones.  “They really feel that they are part of the 'workings' of the city and do not hesitate to provide their ideas and opinions.”

With four meetings behind them, the students are still learning about the city, council, city government, and current events. They plan to attend upcoming city council meetings to see government in action.
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