By Brandon HENSLEY
The youth of La Crescenta made their voice heard Tuesday night, and now seven officers have been chosen for Crescenta Valley Town Council Youth Board.
The winners are Benjamin Campos, Cooper Iven, Joy McCreary, Julie Jarian, Kiana Tom, Lori Mandjikian and Owen Solis. Ballots were cast at St. Luke’s of the Mountains, inside Sadler Hall. There were 11 candidates vying for the seven positions, and the votes were tallied on Wednesday night. Those elected will be inaugurated sometime in August, said CV Town Councilmember Harry Leon.
The CV Youth Board just finished its abbreviated first year of existence. The board consists of those seven positions, and all are held by La Crescenta-area teenagers. Since the board deals with issues concerning middle school and high school students, only teens 13 to 18 years old were allowed to vote, and they could choose up to three candidates.
During the elections, several of the candidates stayed around the adjacent Fire House, a weekly hangout spot for teenagers supported by St. Luke’s. One of them was CV High junior Ben Campos.
“Considering this is my first year running, I want to be at least a part of it and then perhaps next year I can work myself up,” he said.
Campos is part of the CV High Robotics team, and volunteers his team at various community events.
“We’ve been doing a lot of stuff here at the Fire House and I want to connect that through the board and also work with other teams like Fire House and Prom Plus and of course [Robotics] and I want to create a kind of synergy with them,” he said.
But that doesn’t make him unlike the other candidates.
Last year’s board vice president, James Owen, said all of the candidates he and president Aimee Yeghiayan interviewed presented themselves well and are all involved in extra-curricular activities.
“I wouldn’t be sad if any of them won,” Owens said.
Even the kids that simply voted are a part of something more than themselves. CV junior Isabel Martos-Repath is on the tennis team and also participates in Robotics. She and Campos became friends this past year because of that group.
“If they’re youth leaders in my community, making decisions on issues concerning me, then I want to know people are doing a good job and have interests that I feel are important to our youth,” she said.
The two main issues the board has tackled this year are skate parks and bullying. Owens said Cooper Iven went with his friends to various skate parks to see what could be implemented at one being pushed for at CV Park.
“Cooper didn’t have the connections or the means before we were on the council to push the idea forward. When we were on the council, we made it a priority,” said Owens.
Owens also said the board is pushing to have a school-wide discussion on bullying at CV in the fall. Having the power to control events is something Owens relished while on the board.
“I didn’t know what to expect at all,” he said of the board first year. “None of us did. We felt like we were in position for the first time to actually change something. A lot of the volunteer positions I’ve been put in, you’re under such a net of constraint.”
Owens said he used to be called an old soul when he was younger.
“That’s what people always told. When I was younger I didn’t know what it meant, but I’ve always cared about the community and about politics.”
The same goes for Iven, who says he’ll get dirty looks from people if he’s with his skateboard, even if he holds the door open for someone. But he seems to have his priorities in line.
“I show up to meetings when I can. I’ve been really busy this year (with SAT prep work), but next year that’s going to change.”
When Campos was younger, he thought his peers were lazy and unmotivated. But since he got to high school, “I saw people actually cared. They’re involved in these kinds of things.”
“When you’re part of the council, you have the ability to make a difference,” Owens said.