St. Louis Park to allow two youth voting members on four commissions

Youth voices bring additional perspectives to the city

The+St.+Louis+Park+City+Council+voted+to+allow+two+youth+voting+members+on+four+commissions+Jan.+4.+City+Council+members+passed+the+ordinance+unanimously.

Oliver Smith

The St. Louis Park City Council voted to allow two youth voting members on four commissions Jan. 4. City Council members passed the ordinance unanimously.

Talia Lissauer

After participating in an internship looking at disparities between students of color in advanced versus regular level classes with the district office, junior Li Livdahl wanted to continue being active in the community in regards to race, so she decided to apply to be a member of the St. Louis Park Human Rights Commission. 

“Having a voice as a young person in the community is really valuable because in the past normally you see a lot of the adults making the decisions or like in school the administration (is) making the decision without really consulting the people who it really affects the most,” Livdahl said. “At the end of the day, this is our future as well and it’s really cool that we get an opportunity to have that kind of impact (on) our community.”

The St. Louis Park City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Jan. 4 allowing the Technology Advisory Commission, Human Rights Commission, Park and Recreation Commission and Police Advisory Commission to have two youth voting members per commission.

Youth bring a different perspective, often seeing more urgency in issues and tend not to accept obstacles that older folks and politicians can sometimes put in the way of things”

— Larry Kraft

Junior and commission member Andre Barajas said it is important for there to be two youth voting members in certain commissions because it allows for the youth viewpoint to be taken into account when making decisions. 

“It’s really about perspective and bringing different people with different perspectives and it’s good that they want to include kids on the board because I feel like in a lot of different things kids are left out from decisions just because they’re kids,” Barajas said. 

City Council member Larry Kraft said he believes the ordinance is critical as youth should not only be involved in commissions, but should have a peer with who they can compare ideas in order to feel more comfortable in a room full of adults.

“Youth bring a different perspective, often seeing more urgency in issues and tend not to accept obstacles that older folks and politicians can sometimes put in the way of things. So that ‘just do it’ mentality or ‘why isn’t this done already’ is important and something that we need to hear and be held accountable to,” Kraft said. 

Since joining the Human Rights Commission in October, Barajas said he has enjoyed getting to hear many different perspectives on what kind of change can be brought to the community.  

“I wanted to try and create change in my community. I thought the Human Rights Commission would be a really good opportunity to do that and get involved in the community,” Barajas said. “Also, it’s a good thing to get a better feel for how (the) government works and to see if I want to pursue that in the future.”

For anyone interested in applying, Livdahl said she recommends being a part of a commission.

“It’s just a really great opportunity to kind of give back to the community and be able to share your ideas and your voices in a really elegant impactful way,” Livdahl said. 

To apply to be on a commission, visit the St. Louis Park city website. Applications are open until Feb. 28 for terms beginning May 31.