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Mayor's Youth Commission to be introduced to East Lansing

October 3, 2023
The East Lansing City Hall in East Lansing on Sept. 21, 2021.
The East Lansing City Hall in East Lansing on Sept. 21, 2021. —
Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

Broadening the range of the city's representatives, the City of East Lansing is adding the Mayor's Youth Commission to their city government this coming November.

Applications for this commission are currently being accepted for a council of nine voting members between the age of 14 and 18. All members must be a resident of the city or attend a school within the city.

The idea for the Mayor's Youth Commission came from Mayor Pro Tempore, Latin for "for the time being," Jessy Gregg. The possibility of this commission was in the works for about two years between Gregg and East Lansing mayor Ron Bacon, and is now being implemented before Gregg and Bacon step down from public office.

"Whenever I am invited to any kind of outreach for … a youth group or a student group I always say yes because I … really love interacting with the young residents in our community," Gregg said. "I always come away from those conversations … really impressed by how deeply they're thinking about themselves and their place in the world, and (by) the future that they’re going to have to live in."

Bacon was also impressed by the youth's concerns and how much they aligned with adults and residents in the city.

"(The youth) were concerned about public safety … the climate and environment … and they were just concerned about … the ways of how cities work and operate," Bacon said.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Organizational Culture director Elaine Hardy states how the Mayor's Youth Commission gives students an opportunity to understand how local government works and the ability to get involved to make their community a better place.

"I think it's always better to talk to people than talk about people," Gregg said. 

Bacon said the youth in the community should have a voice in government now because "it's their future to be had." 

Biology and psychology senior Nupur Huria, the co-facilitator of Michigan Youth Racial Equity Council, or MYREC, a council with the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health, or MOASH, said “Youth are the present." 

Huria said topics being discussed in government are affecting the youth in the present day. So having an outlet for their voice to be heard is important, like MOASH or the Mayors Youth Commission.

Gregg, Bacon and Hardy all stated they're looking for a diverse group of individuals to be a part of the Mayor's Youth Commission. Huria said being able to converse with people of different backgrounds and experiences allows for new perspectives to be made.

"A lot of people believe that bigger scale policy changes and advocacy is not always attainable, but breaking it down into smaller goals and aligning yourself with groups and like minded voices … really makes it possible in my opinion," Huria said.

Bacon said giving the youth an opportunity to have their voices heard allows East Lansing to be a more inclusive city.

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