Job creation, better transit, downtown patios, a flourishing arts scene and, of course, engaging London’s youth.
Just a handful of priorities from the handful of candidates vying for a seat on the London Youth Advisory Council who showed up at a meet-and-greet at Wolf Performance Hall Wednesday (Feb. 13).
Four of the 15 candidates for the fledgling council, heading into just its second-ever election, took the stage, gave a prepared speech and answered questions from the 20 people in attendance.
Colby Thomson is an activist and volunteer with Youth Outreach Unlimited.
He said he knows how to help disaffected youth because he’s one of them. The 19-year-old moved to London on his own at 16, leaving a tumultuous home life.
“I relied on youth programs and government funding,” he said. “It’s how I learned about London’s high rate of youth unemployment. I got involved with YOU because I try to give back, and work toward a common goal.”
He said he learned how to reach out to youth, the names of organizations and the faces of the people who can help.
“I’ve come to understand them only as a participant could.”
Arthur Gonzalez is an engineering/technological entrepreneurship student at Western University involved with the Boys and Girls Club of London.
He wants the London transit bus congregation site moved from Dundas and Richmond to Dundas and Wellington, and for bicycle paths to be better maintained.
He said he would address youth unemployment with internships, and mentioned a program he’s involved in that encourages “future filmmakers” to address important societal issues.
“I want to energize the passion of London’s youth,” he said.
Amir Farahi is a Grade 12 student and a member of the social justice club at Mother Theresa Catholic Secondary School. He’s also the founder of alternative media organization Among the Free.
He said he would support an “aggressive, pro-business” municipal government. He said London’s post-secondary schools are assets for the city, and that he would work to create job opportunities for recent grads. He called it the “fundamental issue” facing the city.
“It’s important to invest in companies that can grant our graduates the specific jobs they’re looking for,” he said. “London needs to reduce taxes for small businesses and create innovative new opportunities for entrepreneurs.”
Rachel Macaulay is a public relations student doing her placement at Pillar Non-Profit Network. She said she saw the empty seats in the Wolf auditorium as opportunities, and promised to be the “nudge” that pushes great ideas into the spotlight.
“I am the right person to engage London’s youth,” she said. “I’m not proposing huge, outlandish changes but London is the city I want to call home.”
A fifth candidate, Kaylie Sorrenti, joined the forum via Skype (she was in Bangkok) but technical difficulties rendered her point mute, pun intended.
The independent and democratic LYAC is open to anyone between 15 and 25 years of age. It aims to make London a better place to live through six sub-committees dedicated to the environment, economic development, transportation, city council, the arts and marketing/outreach.
The election won’t be held until March and nominations can still be made at www.lyac.ca.
In the original version of this article, published on Feb. 14, Kaylie Sorrenti’s name wasn’t included as the candidate who called in from Bangkok. We apologize for the omission.