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Tara

Silencing Anchorage’s youth

The Youth Advisory Commission (YAC), composed of youth ages 14-22, represents and advocates for the youth of Anchorage in our local government. Some of YAC’s work focuses on the youth mental health crisis—through the creation of the Mental Health Advocacy Program. YAC also crafts resolutions that represent the youth voice of Anchorage and creates community centered projects. YAC has the ability and sole responsibility to appoint a youth between the ages of 16-19 to the Youth Representative seat on the Anchorage Assembly as mandated by municipal code. The youth representative is an active, non-voting ex-officio member of the Anchorage Assembly who is present and participates at regular meetings and work sessions of the Anchorage Assembly. This seat is crucial to representing our younger generation’s voice in local politics.

Recently, Anchorage Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance sponsored an ordinance, AO 2022-69, removing the power of the Youth Advisory Commission to nominate a youth to this seat. The code change vests the power of nomination wholly with the Assembly. Currently, the youth representative is nominated by vote of the Youth Advisory Commission. The commission, made up of only youths, has the ultimate power to nominate other youths. As it stands, once the YAC nominates an individual, they are sent to the Assembly for confirmation.

Under the ill-conceived changes of AO 2022-69, the ordinance would grant the Assembly the power to nominate and confirm the youth representative. This action would bypass the YAC, the voice of Anchorage Youth, entirely. As the code currently exists, the Assembly already has the power to confirm nominees proposed by the commission—but LaFrance seeks to expand the Assembly’s power to be the sole voice when it comes to choosing the youth representative.

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Notably, neither the Assembly nor member LaFrance have consulted or communicated with the Youth Advisory Commission on AO 2022-69. Instead, they are bent on snatching the nomination powers of the YAC, silencing the youth of Anchorage. During the most recent nomination of the current youth representative, the Assembly took over five months for confirmation. The YAC believes that the youth representative should be nominated by youth rather than members of the Assembly, as the youth representative represents only youth voices. This would allow the Assembly ample time to concentrate on their confirmational role and do so in a timely manner.

The diverse and collective voices of young people in Anchorage deserve to be heard. I thank those on the Anchorage Assembly who stand with us. People who fight for the voices of youth should not be in the minority in our city. Every voice should be heard, and substance elevated above procedure. YAC represents all Anchorage youth. The proposed ordinance would exercise a power the Assembly does not and should not have in an attempt to silence the voice of our youth.

Pursuant to current municipal code, the Assembly can choose not to confirm the youth representative nominated. This already allows for significant oversight of the youth representative, while allowing the youth of Anchorage to participate in the political process. If this were to change, the Assembly would be able to selectively nominate, approve, and confirm a single youth, and in doing so, the Anchorage Assembly would be diminishing the diversity of voices it chooses to hear.

The sponsorship of this retaliatory ordinance by LaFrance is disheartening to the youth of Anchorage. Anchorage youth were given a seat at the table so they could share their thoughts and ideas. With her demeaning ordinance, LaFrance now seeks to replace those voices and opinions with her own.

AO 2022-69 will only silence the voice of diversity in Anchorage and discourage the civic involvement of Anchorage’s youth.

I urge you to stand with the Youth Advisory Commission and the Anchorage youth to preserve the youth representative seat as a youth nominated seat. Please email the Anchorage Assembly at: [email protected] and Assembly member LaFrance at [email protected] and request they deny AO 2022-69. It is scheduled to be heard and voted on at the Assembly meeting of June 21.

Andrew (Andy) Duryea is a member of the Youth Advisory Commission. He is the Chair of the Mental Health Advocacy Program (a subcommittee of YAC) and the founder of Andy’s Bears and Cares a 501(c)3 nonprofit. He is a junior at Stanford Online High School and a fifth-generation Alaskan.

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Teri Carns
15 days ago

thanks for bringing this to our attention —

Maureen Suttman
15 days ago

Thoughtful essay. Until the retaliatory part. Then he blew his whole argument.

Coolbreeze
14 days ago

How so? What was LeFrance’s motivation for crafting this change?

Tucker
14 days ago
Reply to  Coolbreeze

That’s the big question but it seems like we know the answer.

Crage
11 days ago
Reply to  Tucker

Now you know how rational Americans felt watching and listening to Dumpity and his minnions. And the radical right thought we weren’t watching and listening 😳

Brian
12 days ago
Reply to  Coolbreeze

I posted what I know above and came to my own conclusion based on the timing of the proposal…”retaliatory” doesn’t seem like a stretch.

Christine
11 days ago
Reply to  Coolbreeze

She wants to control the conversation. Anyone that does not agree—or simply asks a question on why someone was removed is being silenced.

Brian
12 days ago

Based on what I know, which I posted above, retaliatory looks like it might be an appropriate word.

Christine
11 days ago

The retaliation is truthful—truth adds to credibility—not a retraction. It’s not an argument, it’s bringing truth to light about silencing diverse voices.

Crage
11 days ago
Reply to  Christine

And you know something about truth? Doesn’t sound like it.

Barbara S
13 days ago

While my first reaction is to agree with the author I do think some clarification is warranted. How many youth are members of YAC? How are these youth selected to be members? And for what duration? This seems pertinent.

Brian
12 days ago
Reply to  Barbara S

I posted what I know above.

Brian
12 days ago

From what I understand the youth advisory commission is made up of nine young people who are appointed to three year terms which are spaced apart by one, two, and three years so that the seats regularly turn over and can be filled by different mayoral administrations. Their meetings are open and published in advance.

The proposal immediately followed an assembly meeting where the current youth representative asked a question about the procedure the chairwoman used to have a woman removed from the meeting.

Crage
12 days ago
Reply to  Brian

If you’re going to make any intelligent comment about a controversial topic, Brian, you better have the story from both sides. An LGBT student rep on this commission abruptly resigned after finding out that right-wing students who are also on the commission are practicing unethical, behind the scenes shenanigans that is designed to silence the LGBT community. If this information is true, then those students must be removed immediately. I trust LaFrance to know what she’s doing to help all student voices be heard and not just the radical right-wing student voices.

The Dude
12 days ago
Reply to  Crage

“IF” my Aunt had balls, shed be my Uncle. Typical Anchorage Lib. IF? Hilarious!!!

Crage
11 days ago
Reply to  The Dude

If your aunt had balls she’d still be your aunt with liberal balls 😆

Christine
11 days ago
Reply to  Crage

Radical right wing students. Please do not debase these youth with name calling because those same kids stood up for ALL voices without name calling. You may want to take notes on that piece. This is a retaliatory act, which in other contexts, could be classified as punitive against youth voices. These are rotating terms—so no monopoly for any mayor by design. Please do not call these kids names that serve our community and stick up for the transgendered. That’s an alternate fact pattern from what occurred or what this issue is about. Good name calling—good for you.

Crage
11 days ago
Reply to  Christine

Oh, oh you haven’t heard my ability to name call. What you read is my conservative name calling 😤

Crage
12 days ago

If the social media comments are accurate, the radical far right/Save Anchorage mob supporters are in the process of high jacking the YAC. Re-read the LGBT student rep who resigned from the YAC commission due to the majority right-wing students who were secretly working behind the scenes to sensor LGBT library reference materials. Price, the outgoing student rep, belly ached during her last Assembly meeting that she strongly believed Anchorage’s youth voice was being silenced by the Assembly. Before you swallow the radical right-wing choir of voices, you better listen to both sides about who’s involved with cloak and dagger… Read more »

The Dude
12 days ago
Reply to  Crage

Laugh. My. Ass. OFF!!! Youre going off SM rumors? They’re always true.(lol) You sound like the type that would be interested in my beach front property in N Dakota? Yes?

Brian
12 days ago
Reply to  Crage

There was one person on the committee that referred to homosexual material at the library. That person was met with push back by other kids on the committee and it was agreed that the YAC was not a platform for that type of behavior. The person who quit was at the end of their term and rightfully upset. I think if they could have stayed around for a few more days they could have seen how it all played out. These kids are very smart and respectful, and will actually listen to each other; they don’t need babysitters. Also, there… Read more »

Crage
11 days ago
Reply to  Brian

One black? Where are the other colors? 😡

Christine
11 days ago
Reply to  Crage

This is cringe worthy in inaccuracies and conspiracy plots. There are students (plural) of color and the terms are rotating—so no monopoly for any one mayor. Are you kidding me with name calling Anchorage youth and sticking them in a conspiracy and insulting them. They sacrifice time and put themselves out there so some nut can sound off. Follow the facts and take your meds.

Crage
11 days ago
Reply to  Christine

You seem to know about meds. Are they working for you buttercup?

12 days ago

It seems looking at comments here the youth position is being used to try and make it a reason for an Assembly member or mayor to say, “See, the youth back us.” Nominated positions to elect someone is a false layer. Not dissimilar to the way unelected community councils are given power. It is all an end around the voters to pretend their is support and it all should be abandonned.

Brian
12 days ago
Reply to  Brian Sweeney

See my response to Crage. Also, YAC was formed so seats would rotate.

Crage
11 days ago
Reply to  Brian

But how many of these youth seats are being dominated by right-wingers? Two Tshibaka kids who’ve only been in Alaska since the governor paid $80,000 or more for this family’s political move? Come on man, where’s the fairness practicing “family values,” in what’s supposed to be a nonpartisan commission?