By JAMES ROBINSON
Los Alamos County Council
I recently had the honor to once again participate in the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos Candidate Forum. At the event, many subjects were discussed including the Flow Trial and the Gross Receipts Tax from our laboratory.
However, that evening, all the candidates were asked about what we considered Los Alamos’ most significant resource, and how would we utilize it as councilor’s or how would we develop it. Although I began with the discussion of our local boards and commissions, I followed up with our youth.
Our youth are a significant portion of our population, and are masters of the new forms of communication and technology. Their expertise and unique point of view is valuable in making some of the strategic decisions that the next councils will need to make in the future. In addition, some of the decisions the next council will need to make (like future energy) will be ones the youth will have to live with long after we are gone. It is imperative we gather their input.
Along those lines, a wonderful student from the Hill Talkers asked if the council had plans to incorporate more of the youth into the city activities. It was a great question.
Traditionally, the council has sought to create a “youth council” or invite the youth to come before the council and share their thoughts and concerns. Many other candidates suggested they would like to bring that function back, but I disagree.
Too often, our youth are asked to come before peers and asked to discuss their issues, and often leave with the promise that the council will act on their needs.
Sometimes, greatness does come out of those discussions. The Teen Center was one of those decisions. However, due to other pressing business, those promises often have to be sidelined. In addition, those invited to talk may not have all the same concerns as the rest of the youth.
My solution, instead of bringing the youth to the council, I would go to the youth as a councilor. If elected, I would look to engage the youth by going to where they spend their time. I would travel to the Youth Activity Center, Teen Center, library, Ashley Pond, the skate park, Bathtub Row, Brew Pub, or wherever I can be invited.
Being a young adult who has grown up in Los Alamos, I can fully share in the discussion and relate to some of their concerns. I want to create the environment where all of our youth can feel comfortable coming to their elected representative, and share their thoughts and concerns, without being in front of the whole community.
The youth are our future, and it is time we gave them our ears to listen and a voice for their interests. I am already very moved that some youth like Thomas Stephan and others cast their early vote for me. It is my hope that more youth will feel to do the same.