Why Meet with Elected Officials? Marin County Youth Commission Breaks it Down

“Meeting with our elected officials is integral to strengthening our relationship and building the credibility of the Marin County Youth Commission.” – Joshua Rowe, 15

The Marin County Youth Commission is a youth-led advisory body appointed by Marin County Board of Supervisors. Made up of 20 youth from all over Marin County, the Youth Commission is tasked to address issues affecting youth in the County, and close the gap between adult and youth perspectives. The Commission increases awareness of and advocates for youth issues by partnering with the Board of Supervisors, presenting policy recommendations, and creating projects that serve the community.

Meeting with elected officials is a key component to youth advocacy. A face to face interaction with elected officials gives youth the opportunity to showcase their dedication to issues affecting their communities, and more importantly, their capacity to address these issues through building research-driven campaigns. Earlier this month, Commissioners from District 4 met their newly elected representative Supervisor Dennis Rodoni to share their progress in addressing access to higher education, alcohol tobacco and other drugs prevention, and food justice in Marin. The youth had a pleasant meeting. “Both Supervisor Rodoni and his aide, Lorenzo Cordova, seem enthusiastic and eager to assist and give a voice to everyone in District 4,” Abby Smith, a returning youth commissioner, said as she reflected on her time with Supervisor Rodoni.

Beyond one-time meetings, youth are building relationships with elected officials to establish a partnership. Providing young people with a seat at the table gives them agency over what change looks like in their communities. Josh Rowe, a youth commissioner since 2015, expressed his sentiments about what it means to interact with elected officials: “Meeting with our elected officials is integral to strengthening our relationship and building the credibility of the Marin County Youth Commission.” Youth are often left to prove that their experiences are valuable and fostering a relationship with local elected officials is a platform to shed light on the knowledge that youth carry.

YLI is dedicated to supporting young people in their personal and professional development, but more broadly, YLI is committed to uplifting the voices of young people through changing how adults view young people. When adults intentionally create space for young people to step into their leadership, the result is an empowered generation who will move onto change the world. “When meeting with elected officials, I not only have a renewed sense of dedication to my cause, but also learn of the humanity in government and that they, just like us, are human, and that we all can make a significant and lasting impact in our communities.” -Ruby Clarke, MCYC Co-chair, 2017.

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