by Nettie H. Francis
KAYSVILLE—Kaysville City is thriving – thanks in part to the involvement of young people. A new Kaysville City Youth Council was sworn in on Sept. 20 at the city council meeting. Mayor Katie Witt administered the oath of office to the 12 teenagers as council members and attendees watched.
“This is fantastic and exciting,” commented Michelle Barber, city council member and advisor to the youth council. “Our youth council is junior high and high school age youth from the city of Kaysville. They mimic the city council structure with their own mayor who leads their monthly meetings. The youth learn how to put together an agenda, submit items, and use rules of order.”
Emily Alvord, who currently serves as the Kaysville City Youth Mayor, chose to be involved because she wanted to have a voice in the community. “I wanted to understand more about how our government works, especially on the local level because that is what affects our day to day lives the most.”
As the youth mayor, Alvord leads the mock city youth council meetings every month. One of the council’s main responsibilities is to contact the people in charge of city and local events and offer support and help. “Additionally we reach out to people who have served Kaysville and do community ‘thank you’s’ for them,” Alvord said. “We also go to our city buildings to get a better understanding of how Kaysville really functions.”
According to Linda Francis, youth council community advisor, some of the main events the youth help with are Meet the Candidates nights, Kaysville Lights the City to start the Christmas holidays, and the Kaysville Gives event. They also work on monthly service projects in the community.
With the new Farmington High School boundaries dividing Kaysville, the Youth Council is currently planning some activities to bring Kaysville youth together, even when they don’t attend the same high school.
“Our youth council members are students who are already very involved with lots of other school activities, so we try to keep the activities and meetings to about one a month so they don’t get too overwhelmed. We hope the kids also learn a little bit about city government and the roles of various departments,” Francis said.
Mitchell Harding has served on the youth council for two years. He wants to attend a service academy after graduating from high school, and involvement on the youth council is providing him a variety of community service opportunities.
“Youth Council has helped me see how small city government operates,” he said. “I’ve also had opportunities to interact more with the community and our neighborhoods. Also, you get to know lots of youth, which is cool.”
Other cities in Utah also have youth councils. “Ours began several years ago because we had youth that wanted to gain experience with the city council,” explained Barber. “They come and watch our meetings and often stay and participate. The greatest part is that they can observe politics on a local level and see the direct impact that they can have in their own community. To me that’s really exciting.”
One of the most memorable activities the youth council participates in is a day at the Utah State Legislature in January.
“We tour the Capitol and have mock debates on current bills that are being discussed in the upcoming legislative session,” explained Alvord. “In the past, we’ve been able to meet the governor with our mayor at the same time. It’s usually the same day as the State of the State address, so it really makes it personal. It’s so cool to meet Gov. Herbert and then that night watch him speak on television and think ‘I was a part of that today in a small way.’”
Applications for new youth council members are accepted in April. More information can be found on their Instagram page: kaysvillecity.youthcouncil
Current youth council members are Clayre Scott, Anna Van Noy, Ally Jarman, Jeremy Whitaker, Marcus Hayden, Tom Mi, Gracie Rasmussen, Camille Jepsen, Emily Alvord (mayor), Kyla Essex, Mitchell Harding, and Koleman Stinger (not in attendance at the swearing in).
“The logistical benefit to Kaysville City is that we have added support at our events,” Barber said. “But the bigger broader benefit is that we have rising leaders that we can depend on. We know that our city will be well taken care of in the future and around the world.”
Alvord concludes, “This is helping me to see that I can have a say in the community in which I live. It’s not all run by people far away from me. I can really be a part of what is happening locally.”