This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 09/11/2017.
Empowering the youth in Croydon with a ‘young mayor’
In an outwardly apathetic climate of political disillusionment, the recent news of the young people of Croydon being able to elect their first ‘young mayor’ comes as a welcomed relief. Those citizens who reside in the borough and are between the ages of 11 and 18 will be eligible to vote in the election next spring. Candidates will be limited to 16-18 year olds who study, work or live in Croydon. Make no mistake; the campaign is a serious business. Hopefuls who put their names forward for election will be tasked with preparing a fully attested manifesto in order to garner the support of their peers. As part of their commitments, the contenders will also have to oversee a budget that will help to advance the causes of local charitable sector organisations if they secure power.
This opportunity represents a positive force for young people in the Croydon region to participate in the political process, become aware of some of the duties of elected officials and gain some valuable first-hand experience that will become transferable whenever they enter the workforce. At the same time, perhaps youth engagement in local politics will increase as a result of the campaigning and the structures that will be set up for the aspirants running. To many young people, all politicians are felt ‘to be all the same’, or at least similar enough to constitute a seemingly remote strand of society which they do not feel themselves to be a part of.
Hopefully, this initiative will have the effect of detoxifying governmental affairs and turning them into something that is viewed as both interesting and relevant. Seeing as Croydon has London’s greatest youth population, the issues that will be highlighted in the campaign and in office can be used by the newly elected ambassador to address broader national debates. Furthermore, with many Croydon constituencies possessing wafer thin majorities, the 18-24 cohort may potentially play an increasingly significant role in deciding the outcomes of future battles for MPs and councillors who choose to run in the vicinity.