MALONE — After hearing from the village mayor on an idea to bring young people into the local government process, trustees supported a proposal for a youth council.
According to Mayor Andrea Dumas, the idea was to get younger residents of the community involved.
“I just brought this forward to the board, as a way of getting the youth involved in our community a little bit more,” Dumas said.
In the past, Dumas said, students from area schools have helped out at the village office.
“We have had several young adults working in our building, either with Brushton or Malone Central, doing community service hours for national honor society, or just to keep them active in the community,” she said. “And I thought about bringing a group together, not just for school, but for after school for an hour, they would apply to be a part of the mayor’s council.”
Dumas said the idea was to have the younger residents provide input, citing a similar exercise during past Complete Streets meetings.
“(This would) bring them in to have them help us work on different projects, different thoughts and ideas,” Dumas said, “They brought so much energy to that meeting (Complete Streets) and they interjected into different conversations, things we have always talked about but they bring a new perspective to the table. Just bringing them together and having them give us different ideas.”
Dumas said a couple of area students reached out for National Honor Society.
“That kind of helped me bring this forward,” Dumas said. “How do we get them more involved, not just their schoolwork but into the local government? How do we get people involved and wanting to be in local government?”
Village Clerk Rebahka Scaccia said it was a good time to push for involvement in municipal government, citing the large number of uncontested races at the local level on town ballots throughout Franklin County in the Nov. 2 general election.
“It’s a very good question considering how many candidates are running unopposed in their races,” Scaccia said.
Dumas said the village office, police station and sewer plant give tours to eighth-grade students, but this was something extra to increase their civic involvement.
“That’s one day, one class and then it is done, how do we keep them engaged to be more involved in what we do day-to-day and get people involved in running for office, our zoning board, our rec park commission, our planning board,” Dumas said. “We have to go out and beg people to join these boards, we shouldn’t have to, they should be more involved.”
Dumas said if the trustees moved the proposal forward she can see if any young adults are interested in joining the youth council to work on small projects in the village.
Trustee Brian Langdon voiced support for the mayor’s proposal.
“I like the idea, I would move forward with it. I would like to see somebody from the junior high and the senior high on this commission with you,” Langdon said. “I would also like to see, and I don’t think you can bring them all, but maybe a representative of both to sit in the council meetings. They may not have a vote but they can be part of the team, if you will. I think it is an excellent idea.”
Dumas said students observing the board’s meetings could be beneficial.
“We are a very split board, Republican and Democrats, but I don’t think I’ve seen this board work towards a party, we work together on everything. We might not always agree, but that is a good thing,” Dumas said. “So bringing the kids in here to see that, and having them come to some of our Monday night meetings, not to take them out of class, but if it is a Wednesday without school, bring them in for a Wednesday committee meeting.”
Dumas said the youth council would not just be open to village residents, but town residents and students from other school districts, if they are interested.
“The framework they will learn will last them a lifetime whether it be in school, college, the military, they will be part of a team and I am in favor of it, and I think we ought to start immediately,” Langdon said. “I’m sure there is going to have to be a discussion on how to set it all up but I think we need to start the process.”