Nineteen candidates vying for a spot on the London Youth Advisory Council gave their final speeches Tuesday night, officially ending a campaign that had been underway since last week.
The event took place at London Public Library’s Wolf Performance Hall, as nearly 200 people gathered to see what the committee hopefuls had to say.
LYAC is a new committee whose goal is to mirror London city council.
The committee will advise councillors on civic issues by making policy recommendations and emphasising the city’s youth presence.
“It’s never too early to get involved,” said Mayor Joe Fontana. “If you can drive a car at the age of 16, I think you should be able to even vote at the age of 16.”
“They are very much concerned about their future. They should have something to say about their future and not have others make those decisions for them,” he said.
The committee will consist of 13 candidates between the ages of 15 and 25 and one representative from the University Student Council at Western University, Fanshawe Student Union, the London District Catholic school board and the Thames Valley District school board.
Each candidate spoke for two minutes about how they’d improve London in the future.
Issues ranged from the introduction of recycling green bins, the promotion of local fruits and vegetables, and business plans that would see the city grant financial incentives to new university graduates starting companies in London.
Five of the 19 presenters flagged the removal of fluoride from London’s water as a key issue they’d push.
“A lot of it seemed really feasible,” said 19-year-old candidate Soheil Milani. “I feel like I met a lot of people who have practical ideas. I feel less unique but I’m also a lot more optimistic.”
Founder and co-coordinator Matt Ross said he couldn’t have hoped for a better turnout and reception from the city and its youth.
“The candidates were even better than I expected,” said Ross. “Such a broad spectrum of interests and platforms and they were all very passionate and informed.”
The polls opened to the public at 10 p.m. at http://www.lyac.ca and will remain open until March 13 at 10 p.m.
The new committee members will then be integrated with city staff where they will be trained in municipal politics.
Written by Eric Clement. Published in The London Free Press, March 14, 2012.