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Youth Advisory Council Members Represent Hillsboro, Meet Legislators on Capitol Hill
Eight Youth Advisory Council (YAC) members visited Washington, D.C. this month, where six Hillsboro City Councilors attended the annual National League of Cities conference.
The youth delegates met diverse students from other cities, attended a youth section of the conference, listened to the event’s keynote speech, and, with Mayor Callaway's help, took a selfie with Senator Cory Booker.
Highlights for the students included spending time with Oregon legislators on Capitol Hill. Together with City of Beaverton staff and the Beaverton Youth Advisory Council, YAC members met with Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley (pictured right with YAC members), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.
Hillsboro's YAC delegates presented information about the YAC-championed single-use plastic bag restriction in our City. YAC spent two years researching and conducting outreach before November 2018, when the City Council voted unanimously to approve the Sustainable Shopping Initiative.
As the students work to help the initiative pass in the Oregon legislature this month, they were happy to talk about its local success and answer questions from Senator Merkley.
"Showcasing how youth in Hillsboro are making tangible change with the legislation of the Sustainable Shopping Initiative made us proud," said Julia Notz, one of Hillsboro's YAC delegates. "I want our Congresspeople to know that my generation is not waiting to grow up before we address the issues that they work on every day."
Rep. Bonamici invited questions and explained her activities that day. "I took away that although the federal government is complex, youth voice is essential," said Notz. "[The legislators] valued our questions and thoughts on campaign reform, women's healthcare, affordable housing, climate change, and so much more."
In particular, Rep. Bonamici is passionate about reducing student debt. "YAC students are looking toward beginning their career and college pathways," said Kristi Wilson, who coordinates youth development for the City of Hillsboro. "They appreciated that topic — and the opportunity for authentic, meaningful conversation with Oregon legislators."
Another key opportunity: YAC members attended a youth delegation portion of the conference where about 300 student attendees learned from each other about what other cities are doing. Affordable housing and human trafficking were key topics, along with infrastructure, workforce development, and municipal broadband.
The Hillsboro City Councilors who attend the annual conference always prioritize spending time with the YAC delegates outside of conference sessions. Councilor Rick Van Beveren and his wife Cheryl continued their tradition of securing a restaurant space for the Hillsboro councilors, staff, and YAC students to enjoy dinner and socialize.
The students and councilors discussed future policy, sustainability, and human trafficking, among other topics. The dialogue gave the YAC members a chance to learn about best practices and ideas they could bring back to Hillsboro, with perspective from individual councilors.
With the Sustainable Shopping Initiative nearly wrapped up, "YAC is looking for its next project," said Wilson. "The conference provided ideas that the delegates will bring to the rest of the Youth Advisory Council." As a group, they'll evaluate where YAC can contribute in alignment with City Council priorities.
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