Campaign Corner: Vote ‘Yes’ On The Proposed Youth Commission - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Christopher Edwards

Christopher Edwards is a volunteer with the Democratic Party of Hawaii's Oahu County Committee. He is passionate about voting rights and helping people get registered to vote and join the Democratic Party, is an active member of three nonpartisan nonprofits, and attends church in Honolulu.

We should support the City and County of Honolulu charter amendment No. 2 this election, creating a Youth Commission to “express the policy priorities of children and youth in the city.”

Our faith in our young people to be conscientious stewards and ambassadors for their needs should be unwavering. We cannot pass up our opportunity to support their vision of the future.

About 30% of the City and County of Honolulu are residents under the age of 24, but whose voice represents them? This Youth Commission would be peer-aged representatives who “advise the council and mayor on the effects of policies, needs, assessments, priorities, programs, and budgets concerning the children and youth of the city.”

Every generation needs to cultivate civic engagement and leadership. The Youth Commission would give Honolulu a chance to cultivate young leaders for years to come and to represent all the city’s Council districts and our county with a youthful voice. Members would be selected one each by the nine city councilmembers and six by the mayor for two-year terms.

Honolulu Hale with Tilt Shift lens. 2019
If a Youth Commission is approved, it would fall under the city’s managing director at Honolulu Hale. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The time has come to let the youth speak with authority. We should be cognizant that the COVID-19 induced economic struggles our community finds itself in could lead to post-pandemic trouble for our youth or a renaissance. The toughest times are faced by our poorest families, who are facing down hunger, regularly relying on Foodbank services, facing extreme unemployment at 11%.

Only the youngest children will not have memories of these times if they ended tomorrow, but it is too soon to say what the long-term consequences will be.

Democratizing Of Power

Throughout this pandemic, the voters of Oahu can control our priorities and our actions. We must act to support charter amendment No. 2 on our general election ballots.

We must encourage public service, out-of-the-box thinking, and democratizing of power in young people to more than recover from COVID-19 economic pain but to build a better Honolulu.

If you have not spoken with a civically engaged young person recently, you are missing out. I do not think a generation has been more ready for civil activism in decades.

I have never met such bright, hardworking, and skilled representatives impacting the topics of today, including climate change, water, land, housing, health care, and Native Hawaiian issues. They are diverse, empathic and inclusive. They are ready for this shot.

As many of our public service and private company leaders retire, a new generation of Millennial and Gen Z leaders rise in our companies, non-profits, and government offices. The Youth Commission leaders and their peers are the cohorts to lead for years to come. They will include the public servants to help us face the growing public sector challenges of the future.

We have a chance to empower Honolulu’s youth to influence the city’s policies. Let us take this chance to create and pass the influential baton. Let them learn to influence.

Over a dozen youth commission members at a time can learn the skills of listening and leading peers in advocacy towards their goals. They will speak with city department directors, the mayor, and the city council members’ offices on behalf of younger people. Their imaginations to resolve are limited by our willingness to empower them.

They are diverse, empathic and inclusive.

Youth commissions have been tried in Hawaii and on the mainland. They worked on Kauai and in San Francisco.

Let us free their imaginations and work ethics. Let us vote yes for charter amendment No. 2 on our election ballots and then encourage young minds to shape the future of Honolulu for the benefit of its residents and visitors.

When youth are ready to take the responsibility into their hands and shape it into the future, they should be given the resources and let free to express their imaginings, to ask questions, to work as hard as ever, and expect policy results.

I am encouraging others to vote yes on charter amendment No. 2. I think you should too. Click here for more information.

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Read this next:

Campaign Corner: Read Up On Honolulu Charter Questions

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About the Author

Christopher Edwards

Christopher Edwards is a volunteer with the Democratic Party of Hawaii's Oahu County Committee. He is passionate about voting rights and helping people get registered to vote and join the Democratic Party, is an active member of three nonpartisan nonprofits, and attends church in Honolulu.

Latest Comments (0)

A youth commission is  a waste of time. The bestsolution would be for youth to run for elected office.Then instead of a useless advisory commission that theleaders would politely listen to, you could have a real sayin politics.  Meet the politicos on their level rather thanon a subservient level.

6_Pence · 2 years ago

This is what we do in Hawaii.  We add commissions and new layers to government then we wonder why our ratio of government to civilian employment is so high.

TH · 2 years ago

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