Bethel allows youth age 14-17 to serve in city committees and commissions

Bethel City Hall (Elyssa Loughlin/KYUK)

On May 25, the Bethel City Council voted to create positions for youth age 14 to 17 on city committees and commissions.

Bethel City Clerk Lori Strickler wants to educate kids about how local government works.

“Our goal is to encourage them as they grow up to become more involved with local government, where change is just a matter of a discussion away,” said Strickler.

Strickler said that she has wanted to do this for a long time. She got the idea when she started involving youth in local elections.

“We would hire youth election volunteers to come in and help work in the polls, just to get a better idea and understanding of how elections work, but also perhaps entice them into voting when they become old enough to do so,” said Strickler.

Under the new ordinance, the teens who join the city committees and commissions will not be able to vote, but they can engage in discussion during the commission meetings just as any other member would. Council member Mark Springer likes the idea.

“I applaud that idea. There’s really nothing more dangerous than when a 14- to [17]-year-old suddenly takes an interest in politics. We need more of that dangerous,” said Springer.

Once a Bethel resident turns 18, they are eligible for a full, voting seat on a city committee or commission.

Bethel City Council unanimously passed this ordinance during their May 25 meeting. According to Strickler, youth positions likely won’t kick in for a few more months.

KYUK - Bethel

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