Now! The Case for Young People in Government

We are live at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit! NextGen is a two-day training summit aimed at inspiring and educating rising government leaders. The sessions and workshops presented are jam packed with information to further enhance their day-to-day career and the betterment of government overall.

For our closing keynote on Day 1, we heard from Svante Myrick, Mayor of Ithaca, NY. At the age of 24, Myrick became the City of Ithaca’s youngest Mayor and first Mayor of color. He focused on the importance of getting a new generation of leadership in government- specifically in elected office. According to Myrick, if you were to go to the Hill for the first time, one might think a group of 20 somethings ran the government. However, we know this is not the case.

If great changes are going to happen in this country, everyone (including young people) need to be involved. People need to be thinking, dreaming and acting to make government better. As Myrick noted, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Martin Luther King and many other great leaders did not act alone. In fact, they had an entire team behind them working to advance the same mission. The best way to do this? Get young people to elected to public office.

So why are young people important? First- their energy. As Myrick noted, he won the mayoral election by working hard and knocking on every door, not by having the most money or sponsors. In practice, having more energy to stay up all night allows young people to work hard and “move mountains.” Furthermore, energy is contagious and if it begins at the top, it can change an organization.

Second- creativity. Young, creative leaders encourage creativity and “outside the box” thinking throughout an organization. In today’s world of budget buts, state debt, and sequestration, government needs to think differently to enact real change and continue to improve services for constituents. From parking spots to managing budgets, the City of Ithaca was able to change processes for the better by simply trying something new. All too often, organizations do what they’ve always done. In fact, many people think if others don’t do it, it shouldn’t be done. By encouraging people to think differently and “never say no,” you can’t go wrong. Myrick even told his employees that “thou shall not say ‘this can’t be done’ to the Mayor.”

Third- moral authority. As kids, we remember hearing “life isn’t fair” all of the time and frustrated at that thought. But why not? Myrick noted that young people still believe they can make a difference and have the will to do better work. So even if it has never been done before, go for it. As he said, “what you lack in experience, make up for in ignorance. This is how you get things done.”

Myrick’s keynote was inspirational, energetic and the perfect way to end Day 1 of NextGen. Be sure to check out all the other blog posts by searching #nextgengov!

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

Thanks for sharing! I completely agree that we need more young people in the Government. We need their energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and courage! Unfortunately, most of us are suffering through sequestration and hiring freezes. I yearn for the days when we had young people in the office. Nowadays, the only young talent are unpaid student interns – here today…gone tomorrow.

Julie Chase

Yes, I agree. Maybe when the furloughs, pay freezes and most importantly the “hiring” freezes ease up. That is if the young people haven’t been totally turned off to civil service. Is a nice dream….but far from reality.

Scott Kearby

If you are young … then build on these three qualities (energy, creativity, moral authority).

If you are not as young as you once were … you can still build on these three qualities! Maybe if you spend some time with the young people at work, some of it will rub off on you! It’s never too late …