Youth City Council Day With the Legislature

Youth City Council Day With the Legislature
Posted on 03/04/2015
Scott Bracken

By Councilmember Scott Bracken

As many of you know, the city sponsors a Youth City Council (YCC) comprised of High School students in Cottonwood Heights. On January 28, the YCC participated in a "Day with the Legislature," sponsored by the Utah League of Cities and Towns. We met at City Hall early that morning and carpooled to the Capitol. Only one of the students looked like they’d only been up for five minutes.

Our first stop was on the first floor for registration and a continental breakfast. While we were eating, Senator Brian Shiozawa found us and talked to the group for a few minutes before taking us to the Senate Chambers for a look around (where the opportunity to take “selfies” from around the president’s chair was not missed). He then escorted us over to the House Building to meet up with Representative Marie Poulson’s intern for a Tour of the Capitol.

After a lot of walking and talking throughout the Capitol Building, we headed to the Capitol Board Room for a meeting with one of Cottonwood Heights’ most prominent citizens, Attorney General Sean Reyes. It was nice to sit down for a few minutes (at least for the advisors who do not possess teenaged legs). Although his time was limited (he had to go to an appropriations committee hearing for his office’s budget), we were able to chat with him for a few minutes. We spent close to thirty minutes with his Chief Communications Officer, Missy Larsen, asking questions and learning more about what the Attorney General's Office does. I really appreciate them taking time out of a very busy schedule to talk to us.

After that meeting, we reconnected with Rep. Marie Poulson for a visit to the House Chambers and her desk on the floor there. By that time, it had become much busier with other YCC groups from all over Utah taking tours, so no “selfies” from the speaker’s chair, I’m afraid. Rep Poulson, a former teacher, is always gracious and willing to talk to the students. We learned a lot about what it takes to get a bill onto the floor for debate, and how intense the session is for our legislators to keep the hundreds of bills and amendments straight in order to make the best decisions possible.

We then left the Capitol grounds and headed to the Salt Palace to participate in the “Build Your Utah” program, sponsored by Envision Utah. It focused on what we want Utah to look like in 2050, when there will be close to twice as many people as today. The students also got to see comparisons of answers by students and the general population about what type of growth and policies we should adopt in Utah.

The day ended up with lunch across the street with all 400+ youth from around the state. We sat at two tables with members of our city council, City Manager John Park, and two YCC members from Washington City, UT. While lunch was good, the keynote speaker was awesome! I don’t just say that because I was a big Pittsburg Steelers fan growing up. Terry Bradshaw, four-time Super Bowl champion and quarterback during that era, gave a great motivational speech. He brought out some notes, promptly threw them on the floor and said “I hope I don’t have to resort to those” and he didn’t. He told us about his burro, Snoop Dog, his guard dog, Johnny Cash, and many of the other animals he has on his ranch. The main emphasis of his talk was you have to be happy to be alive and if you’re not happy, to ‘keep saying it ‘till it’s true.’ He also talked about family and how integral they are to being happy. Another key point to being happy was to choose to NOT be offended. You can’t control what others say about you, but you can control how you react.

I’ve loved working with the YCC since its inception in 2006 (and so does my wife).  We are gearing up for next year’s group before the end of the school year. Applications to be a part of YCC for the 2015-16 school year will be available online on or before March 31st. Any high school-aged youth interested in joining that resides or goes to school in Cottonwood Heights can download an application from the city website at cottonwoodheights.utah.gov/ycc or pick up an application from the city offices. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. First-time applicants will need to provide a letter of recommendation and participate in a short interview. All returning members must also fill out an application.

YCC provides youth with a chance to serve the community, develop leadership skills, interact with elected officials, and participate in valuable educational experiences. Besides being fun, being a member looks good on resumes and scholarship applications. It’s a great opportunity that shouldn’t be missed!