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Anchorage Assembly adds advisory position for high-schooler

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: September 12, 2017
  • Published September 12, 2017

High school-aged Anchorage residents can now serve in an advisory role on the Anchorage Assembly.

The Assembly voted 8-3 Tuesday night to create a position for a "youth representative." The measure, introduced in March by then-Assemblyman Patrick Flynn and revised numerous times since, allows an Anchorage resident aged 16 to 18 to cast preferential votes and participate in discussions and debates.

"Countless individuals helped weigh in and crack what I believe to be, based on the research, one of the best laws in the country regarding youth representation in local government," said Assemblyman Felix Rivera, who co-sponsored the ordinance.

Assembly members John Weddleton, Amy Demboski and Fred Dyson cast "no" votes. Weddleton and Demboski said they supported youth involvement but felt the new position was circumventing the community council system. Community councils can decide to include members younger than the age of 18, but Demboski said councils in her area decided that was inappropriate, when it comes to measures on liquor or marijuana licenses.

Several members of Anchorage's Youth Advisory Commission came to Tuesday's meeting to urge the Assembly to pass it.

The term extends for at least six months and at most one year. The Youth Commission, dormant for several years before the administration of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz reinstated it in 2015, will now be responsible for making the nomination.

A study by the Anchorage Youth Development Commission, submitted to the Assembly, found a handful of laws in other cities. The Anchorage School District also has a similar position.

In other business Tuesday night: The Assembly also allocated money to fixing chronic flooding by Chester Creek, and signed off on a nearly $1 million project to add a connection on the Fish Creek trail — though with a "no" vote from Demboski, who questioned the wisdom of expanding the city's infrastructure at a time of shrinking budgets.

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