On April 19, 25 students from the 32nd Senate District took part in Part Two of State Senator Pamela Althoff’s first Youth Advisory Council (YAC) at the McHenry County Administrative Offices in Woodstock, which gave students a hands-on learning experience about public policy and the legislative process.
“This is such a great group of kids who are truly engaged in what’s going on in the world and who are looking to make a difference,” said Sen. Althoff. “I hope this program furthered their interest in public policy, and I hope they walked away with a better sense of the legislative process here in Illinois.”
Students from Alden-Hebron, Crystal Lake South, Johnsburg, Marengo, Marian, McHenry West, Prairie Ridge, Richmond-Burton, Woodstock North, Lakes Community and Woodstock high schools participated in the Youth Advisory Council.
Senator Althoff’s YAC program brings students together twice a school year to discuss, propose, and vote on legislation. Part One took place in January where students broke into groups to develop ideas for possible state legislation. They then took a popular vote and chose one mock legislative proposal, which addressed redistricting reform. That winning bill then advanced to the spring meeting, which took place Wednesday.
Wednesday’s event began with presentations from a variety of guest speakers including Suzanne Hoban, Executive Director of Family Health Partnership Clinic, Patrick Berry, Senate Republican Floor Director, Joe Gottemoller, McHenry County Board, and Jack Franks, McHenry County Board Chairman.
“We lined up a diverse group of speakers who met with the students, and offered the kids the opportunity to get a closer, inside look into redistricting reform, which was the topic of legislation the students chose during our first meeting,” said Sen. Althoff.
“Reforming the redistricting process is one of the most important issues facing Illinois taxpayers today,” Franks said. “Seeing this critical mass of young people actively investigating better alternatives than our current system gives me a lot of hope that we will see real changes in the near future. Sen. Althoff deserves a lot of credit for encouraging the growth of the next generation of local leaders – it will make McHenry County a better place in the years and decades to come.”
“It’s always great to see young people engaging in their government, especially when they have the opportunity to learn about policy choices that affect their lives every day,” Gottemoller said. “Since the people elected to public office choose how to address the issues that come up, and the composition of districts can make or break who gets elected, redistricting should not be done by people who have an interest in keeping themselves in office.”
Following the speakers’ presentations, students participated in a mock committee hearing, where they were broken up into groups representing the major players in the realm of public policy including senators, lobbyists, concerned citizens, and members of the media. This simulation gave them a chance to debate the redistricting legislation they chose on in the fall.