In order to elevate youth voices in Salida, the new City Council Teen Liaison was introduced this year. The position is currently held by Jessie Rollins, a Senior at Salida High school.
“The main thing about the city council rep position is just having me be there to offer input to the city council,” explained Rollins. “It came about when I was talking to Councilmember Justin Critelli. He had suggested an idea like this because he is an older millennial and is the youngest member of city council, but he really cares about youth voice.”
“I go into city council work sessions once every quarter and council will give me assignments based on what they’re thinking at that moment, or I hold focus groups with Stella Veazey who will take over the position when I’m gone. Together we hold focus groups and ask kids general questions about what changes they want to see in Salida.”
“In terms of my most recent project, the Student Resource Officer survey, I created the survey and then sent it out to kids. We’re working on data analysis right now.”
“For me it’s really, really exciting. I have discovered that I really love doing the work we are doing. I’ve always had an idea that I wanted to go into law or politics and this position has affirmed that for me. It’s nice to feel heard and respected by the city council.”
Other projects that Rollins and Veazey are working on include a focus group on what should be done with the old skatepark in downtown, as well as making some changes to how the school deals with mental health for youth.
“Stella wants to create a breakdown room which would be a place where kids can go if they’re having feelings that are too powerful to let them keep learning in a classroom environment.”
“We’ve been pulling some opinions on what the city is going to do with the old skate park because that’s a very big deal to a lot of teenagers in Salida; mainly focus groups with [Salida Parks and Recreation Director] Diesel Post.”
“My role in this position is getting it set up and letting this be an ongoing position where kids can continue to be a part of our government. Making Salida for everyone, not just those of us who are allowed to vote.”