Mayor Todd Gloria at a debate. Photo by Chris Stone

Mayor Todd Gloria Thursday announced the reinstatement of the city’s Youth Commission, charged with identifying critical issues affecting youth in the city and advising the mayor, City Council and city staff on those issues.

“Our young people are not just our future — they’re also our present,” Gloria said. “My experiences as a young person in politics were incredibly valuable and I encourage young people to apply to serve on the commission. We want to know how San Diego can better serve you today and into the future.”

Established in 2002, the commission last met in 2015. It is intended to facilitate the participation of teenagers and young adults in local government, as well as provide city officials an opportunity to hear and address their ideas and concerns.

The commission will meet at least four times a year and be composed of 20 members who are 14 to 22 years of age and reside in San Diego.

“Youth offer an invaluable perspective on the world that can benefit everyone. Unfortunately, the value of their insight is often dismissed, especially when it comes to city decisions,” said Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera. “As we move forward to restore the commission, we must work to ensure that it is structured to prioritize youth, and that it offers young San Diegans a meaningful and accessible opportunity for input on important city matters.”

The city plans to have its first meeting of the commission this fall after commissioners are appointed by Gloria and the City Council.

“Our youth are our eyes and ears in our neighborhoods. They’re the ones shooting hoops at the parks. They’re the ones reading books at our libraries. And they’re the ones walking to school on our sidewalks,” Councilman Chris Cate said. “Investing in our youth will lead to a better tomorrow.”

The reactivation of the commission comes as the city attempts to support young people by creating the Office of Child and Youth Success, allocating city dollars for summer youth programming at city parks and recreation centers and securing investments to bolster youth employment through Connect2Careers.

“As a former teacher who thinks about his former fifth-graders every day, I know just how important it is to give our youth a role in shaping policies and programs that affect them,” said Councilman Raul Campillo. “By including our youth in our government, Mayor Gloria’s action makes our government stronger.

“I look forward to seeing and implementing the ideas and recommendations that the Youth Commission will provide our city in the years to come,” Campillo concluded.

Shane Harris, president of the Peoples Association of Justice Advocates, applauded the Mayor’s action.

“This is a step forward in a fight that we have long been advocating for which is increasing the youth voice not just as a voice but as the modern day leaders of innovative policy change,” Harris said. “Creating bodies like this adds a component to government that prepares these youth to understand how the policy and legislative process works at the local level.”

Applicants for the Youth Commission can go to www.onboard.sandiego.gov.

City News Service contributed to this article.

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