Supporting Newton's Young People
Youth activists and change makers have grown up hearing “you are the future” from adults. But young people are not the future, we are the present. I believe that young people have some of the most useful experiences and knowledge to offer in determining the city we want. I know the importance of listening to and fighting for our future. As a Councilor, every Newtonian will have a seat at my table, no matter their age. If we want to build a city that empowers and supports its young population, we have to implement policies that young people advocate for, which include:
1. Lowering Newton’s Municipal Voting Age to 16
In the 2020 election, 78% of registered voters in Newton cast a ballot. While this number represents an increase from 2016, it shows that we can do more to encourage civic engagement in our city. The Newton Youth Commission has led the charge on this issue, advocating for lowering the municipal voting age to 16. Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds can drive, work, and pay taxes. In Newton, they have organized city-wide marches for climate action and racial justice. They deserve to have their voices heard in City Hall. We also know that the earlier that voters begin voting, the more likely they are to form consistent voting habits into adulthood, but this is made difficult by the registration age of 18 and the many life changes that occur when students turn 18, from going off to college to moving away from home for the first time. By enacting change through a home rule petition on the state level, we can promote a more representative democracy and lifelong civic engagement.
2. Bolstering Newton’s Youth Services
Our city’s Youth Commission does critical work advocating for the needs of young people across our city. In order to adequately provide services our young people need, our Youth Services department must have more personnel (including a trained mental health professional) and funding. Our city could dramatically expand our support for young people outside of school if our city followed the models which have been implemented in Needham and Arlington. Letting young people guide our policy on the local level is not just beneficial for political engagement, but also makes our city more inclusive and equitable.
3. Designing a City that Centers Young People and Allows Them to Thrive
From encouraging housing near transit to expanding biking lanes and accessibility to mental health resources, every decision we make impacts young people’s ability to live here. I will consider every Council vote through the lens of our future wellbeing, from issues of housing affordability to the expansion of public transit and green space.