Waterloo has recently established its first ever youth city council. It is made up of 28 sophomores through seniors drawn from all parts of the city and representing four high schools. The Youth City Council empowers young people to think critically, debate civilly, and forge consensus on the most critical issues facing the community.
Here is what a councilman, Dylan Mack from Columbus Catholic High School, had to say about his experience thus far:
What inspired you to apply for Youth City Council?
While I wouldn’t say that there was any one particular incident or issue that compelled me to apply for the Waterloo Youth City Council, there were certainly a number of factors that influenced my decision. Primarily, it’s an incredible opportunity. I have long been interested in government and politics. I know very little, however, about local government. Not only does the Youth City Council allow me to learn about the functioning of local government, but it gives me the chance to participate in it firsthand. On a different note, over the past year, I have become involved with student activism. This has come, more specifically, in the form of the March For Our Lives movement, which seeks to promote common sense gun reform in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Over the course of my participation in March For Our Lives, I have come to recognize the importance of using my voice to affect positive change in the broader context of my community. The Youth City Council provides students, such as myself, unparalleled access to the resources necessary for creating change.
What are some of your initiatives or what do you hope to achieve through serving on the council?
Unsurprisingly, I am very interested in further looking into what can be done to protect my city from gun violence. I don’t pretend to know all of the legislation in place that is specific to Waterloo. However, there are certainly things that can be done to make my community safer. This is especially poignant now, as a legislative proposal is moving forward in the Iowa Senate that would allow handguns to be purchased or carried without a permit. I also hope to see what we can do to address mental health problems in our community. Iowa, undeniably, does not provide adequate mental health services to students. In light of recent events within my community, it has become clear that a greater effort must be made to guarantee the needs of all students are met, especially in this regard.
How is the council impacting youth in the Waterloo community, serving and not serving on the council?
The Waterloo Youth City Council is impacting all young people of Waterloo by giving us a voice. My job on the Council is, first and foremost, to be a representative. I work for residents of my ward, the students of my high school, and young people of the community as a whole. In some capacity, every young person in Waterloo, and even some beyond it, is represented. While the Council empowers some students through the opportunity of being involved with government, it also empowers students by giving them a body to speak on their behalf.