Policy and a Pint®: Next Generation Leaders

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Policy and a Pint
Steve Seel hosting Policy and a Pint® (MPR / Nate Ryan)
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Many polls — especially in an election year — suggest that Americans believe the country is in a political mess with a high-level of government distrust. It has been said that young people's views of government mirror that of the nation. As the generation hit hardest by financial woes, lack of economic mobility, and growing student debt, many young people are walking away from public service, skeptical if politics can bring about the change they want to see. Despite this, some young people in Minnesota are shaking off the political cynicism and redefining the role of young people in government, especially in local politics.

Host Steve Seel is joined by Jay Arrowsmith-DeCoux, mayor of Grand Marais; Suyapa Miranda, executive director of Saint Anthony Park (Saint Paul) Community Council; and Luke Hellier, senior account executive for the Public Affairs Company, currently running for City Council in Lakeville, Minn to discuss why they decided to serve, what they have learned and why it is more important now than ever that young people step in to be the voices that will shape Minnesota's future.

Listen to the conversation above, or download the MP3. Find choice quotes from the discussion below.

On why they got involved in public service:

"When I was 24 or 25 [and saw that] some of these systems aren't working well. I worked with felons for four years and working with Ramsey County. I just [thought], if I ran things, things would be so much more different." – Suyapa Miranda, Executive Director, Saint Anthony Park (Saint Paul) Community Council

"There was a leadership vacancy so me stepping into that position [as mayor] took very little concerted effort. I spent a lot of time talking to people about things ... and I think I spent about $20." – Jay Arrowsmith-DeCoux, mayor of Grand Marais

"I really care about my city [Lakeville]. ... And I saw some things that Edina did very poorly when it came to infrastructure and I want to make sure that Lakeville doesn't make the same mistakes." – Luke Hellier, Senior Account Executive for the Public Affairs Company, currently running for City Council in Lakeville, Minn.

On what it was like to be young in a field dominated by an older generation:

"We had a lot of older folks on our board and they were nervous and they said, here's this 33-year-old kid, what does she know about anything? I said it's really time for this council to find out who we are as a council, to get some vision, and to get some strategy." – Suyapa Miranda

On generational divides in their service:

"I think they felt that I just didn't know the community, that I was not in with the community. I didn't understand what was happening in the community and I mean given I don't have generational knowledge or institutional knowledge of that, I have more than I did two years ago. But what I did know what it was like to be virtually homeless in my own community. I did know what it was like to work several part time jobs in order to support myself and that's a lot of people in Grand Marais that live like that." – Jay Arrowsmith-DeCoux

On making changes in government:

"Status quo is a really powerful thing in local governments and it is not that hard to break it but what you've got to talk to the people who represent you, you've got to do that. And people don't feel comfortable doing that." – Jay Arrowsmith-DeCoux

"I can't take away institutional memory of what we have done. I have to be able to honor that and value that and then also bring in the new ideas. I'm going to need my stakeholders to be behind me going through the strategy of how we're going to manage this from now on so getting people to question themselves was a big deal." – Suyapa Miranda

On how local government is more effective:

"I have no interest than going higher than mayor because I want to know the people I'm representing, I want to know these people because if I don't it becomes an abstraction, you're not as useful." – Jay Arrowsmith-DeCoux

"Because it's not a career, the people who serve are doing it become they care about a community. You're not in Washington D.C. making $170,000 a year. You're in your town and you show up one day a week for your city council meeting." – Luke Hellier

On advice to millennials on getting involved in government:

"Join a local board, they're always looking for people to be on the planning commission, or the transportation committee. I really got into this local government thing a year ago. I was appointed to the Dakota County Planning Commission. We really focus on parks, and trails, and development of roads. We're always looking for people." – Luke Hellier

"I think the first this is just becoming aware of where you live and what's going on and what are some of the trends that are happening. I think awareness is a huge deal. Also, what are you passionate about? What do you want the world to look like in your future?" – Suyapa Miranda

Funded by Target, Policy and a Pint® is an event series cosponsored by The Current and the Citizens League that engages people in important conversations about public policy in Minnesota.

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