In an effort to bring youth into city government, Watertown Common Council members mulled the idea of creating a city youth advisory committee Tuesday night.
Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland said she heard recently from two youth members at a finance committee meeting and received letters of support from local school principals on the possibility of having such a committee.
“The goal is to have a youth advisory committee that serves both as a vehicle to bringing the youth into the city government process through opinion and active volunteerism as well as have a body with another voice at the table during strategy discussions,” McFarland said. “For me, acknowledging that the future of this community is in the youth and wanting to retain those youth here, this is a really easy way to involve them and bring them into the fold early on rather than when they graduate.”
She said having a youth advisory committee is not a new idea in the state or nation.
McFarland said the group would be composed of students entering eighth grade through 12th grade. She said the students could live in either Dodge or Jefferson counties and come from either public and private schools with traditional and nontraditional learning backgrounds.
The youth advisory committee will consist of seven members and two mentors, who will be the committee’s chair and vice chair of the group, McFarland said.
“I would feel comfortable if we had some verbiage in there (the ordinance) to ensure whoever the legal adults that sit as the chair and the vice chair have clean records,” alderman Eric Schmid said.
Schmid made a motion to table the youth advisory committee until more description is added to the ordinance.
“Clearly defining the roles of mentors and requirements would benefit the community as a whole to show we are safeguarding the youth and still incorporating them,” Schmid said.
The issue will likely come before the council at their next meeting.