Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Government, politics, and young people in the South of Fraser

I was talking to a friend yesterday about politics and young people in Langley, lamenting the fact that in local government it seems to be something for older people. In Langley, we counted the amount of people under the age 30 that are really involved in local government advocacy and politics. We could barely fill a hand. Why is this? I know that many of my peer-group run to Vancouver as fast as they can because they feel that Langley isn't a community that shares their ideals and desires for an vibrant, urban environment; it's suburbia to them. A friend of mine who is engaged in Vancouver issues (he moved from Langley to Vancouver) told me, "I'm just a boy who enjoys frequent transit, a solid grid network and mixed-use development"

When young people do run for local government out here, they run into ageism. As another friend from Abbotsford said, “what experience do young people have to draw on? Very little - idealism and noble sentiments only go so far.” I have a feeling that many other people feel the same way. The thing is that we do need some fresh ideas, otherwise we end up with government that runs on the status quo. The last time I checked, the status quo isn’t working. Would a younger person be more interested in preserving green-space, building a sustainable community, engaging young people, and investing in aging infrastructure? I think so, after all it’s our future.

Looking back at previous councils in Langley, young people are far and few between. Is politics truly only for old people in Langley? Is it really good that many young, engaged citizens want to leave Langley as soon as? What would it take to change the mentality out here?

1 comment:

Jordan B said...

I guess the question is: how do you define "young"?

In Langley Township in 2005, I was elected at age 29, and re-elected in 2008 at age 32. Michelle Sparrow is 31, and was elected in 2011. In Surrey, Barinder Rasode and Tom Gill are fairly young.

We definitely need younger people involved in all areas of public life, but I wouldn't necessarily suggest that "fresh ideas" can only be generated by younger faces. It's actually the legwork, research, reading and listening that generates great ideas--and that can be done by a politician of any age.