After earlier conversations about youth engagement, the Dickinson City Commission unanimously approved a resolution to establish a youth commission with a goal to have the governmental body up and running by September.

City Administrator Brian Winningham presented the motion to the commission during the regularly scheduled Dickinson City Commission meeting Tuesday at City Hall, advocating for a stronger youth participation in governmental affairs.

“So one of the things that I think (a youth commission) provides is a perspective that we forget (such as) what the challenges are at the ages... between 15 and 18, where they are challenged with so many things that are sometimes unseen by adults because they don’t want them to be seen,” Winningham said, adding, “... Something beyond social media; but face-to-face (and) heart-to-heart discussions with youth about what they’re faced with that would give a perspective to the city commission going forward with other decisions that would affect them and impact them. Right now, I don't think it’s always considered that way.”

Commissioner Nikki Wolla motioned to approve the resolution establishing the rules for the youth commission, followed by a second from Commissioner John Odermann. In a 5-0 roll-call vote, the resolution passed.

Two commissioners from the Dickinson City Commission would oversee the youth commission. Currently, Winningham and Executive Assistant Rita Binstock would be the first coordinators to get the youth government off the ground. The goal is to have a volunteer from the community to help facilitate the youth commission, Winningham noted.

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According to city documents, the youth commission will consist of 10 members — students who are in grades 10-12. Each member will serve a term of one year until their qualified successors are appointed to replace them. The commission shall appoint one primary member and one alternate to serve as one voting member on city committees and boards, which are yet to be determined, city documents state.

“I would hope that we don't limit anyone from participating. So we’ll see how many applicants we get and we may have to have various alternates. So if there’s 10 members, maybe we’ll have 10 alternates,” Winningham said. “It’d be great to have someone who can also be on the commission but then be commissioned alternates, so they would participate in a more robust way and that way we’re not trying to limit. If there’s 20 youths that are willing to come and start with boring city stuff and solve problems, I’ll take as many as willing to come forward.”

City documents state that youth commissioners will serve without compensation, “provided that, with advance budgetary approval” from the Dickinson City Commission “the actual and necessary expenses (if any) incurred by the members in the conduct of city business shall be reimbursable pursuant to the current commission.”

The youth commission would last throughout each school year, beginning in September and ending in June with monthly meetings. Positions of chair and vice-chair would be elected and serve a one-year term. All minutes of the actions taken during youth meetings are required to be filed with Winningham.

This youth governmental body will help educate students on the importance of civic duty and responsibilities, Winningham noted.

“... So some of it’s boring, because it’ll be department level interaction,” he said, with a smirk. “But we really want the voices to come out from our youth for all the decisions that are being made at least we’ll have some touch point that has a youth voice, that says, ‘Here’s what we think about Town Square. Here’s what we think about various projects within the city.’ And then maybe (it’ll) create some problem solving from a youth perspective that we are missing. And then we would have a more well rounded voice from our community.”

Responsibilities of youth commissioners include fostering a greater involvement of youth in municipal governmental affairs, analyzing problems, conducting forums/activities either alone in conjunction with other governmental agencies and community organizations and reviewing municipal matters.

Applications can be found on the City of Dickinson’s website or by visiting dickinsongov.com/dyc/.