New junior council member for Lititz Borough
By: ROCHELLE A. SHENK Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
Being a student on borough council is an education. Jordan Conrad, Warwick High School junior and Lititz’s new junior council member, joined her fellow council members in Borough Hall Jan. 31.
With two meetings under her belt, Conrad said she’s finding it very interesting.
"I’m surprised about how much time council devotes to discussion before making decisions on even the smallest item. I’m realizing that even the smallest decisions affect daily living in the community," she said.
During her five-month tenure, she will meet with the various council committees to get an insider’s view on the working of local government. The daughter of Jeff and Kim Conrad, Jordan said that she was encouraged to apply for the position by two of her teachers.
"I’ve always been interested in politics, and this program is a perfect way to experience the workings of local government," she said.
Lititz Borough Council member Doug Bomberger coordinates council’s junior council member program. He explained that a junior council member program was initiated in 1999 by the Pennsylvania State Boroughs Association, and Lititz Borough council began its program last year.
"What we’re trying to demonstrate to our junior council member is the importance of serving their community. We hope that after college they come back to our community and become involved whether it’s in council or in any of the other community organizations that are part of the fabric of our community. It’s volunteers that make our community great," he said.
To be eligible for the Lititz Borough Junior Council member program a student must live either in Lititz Borough or Warwick Township and be a junior or senior in any school in the area. There are two junior council member opportunities per year — the first five-month session begins in January, and the second begins in September.
"We only ask students to serve for five-months — that’s enough time for them to get an understanding of how local government works. I don’t want them to lose out on other aspects of their schooling such as athletics or academics," he said.
Prospective students are asked to write an essay on a given topic. Bomberger said that one of the previous topics was "how youth involvement can have a positive impact on building our community’s future."
Junior council members receive the same information packets that council members receive prior to meetings. These packets contain information about agenda items for the upcoming meeting. They are involved in discussion on issues. However, junior council members are not allowed to vote on issues or sit in on administrative meetings or executive sessions that may be held to discuss personnel or legal matters. At the end of their five-month term, junior council members receive a certificate of appreciation for their service and a letter from the mayor.
"We do try to engage our junior council members and make them feel involved. Through that involvement they can learn about the process of local government. Our goal is to let them know that local does have an impact on their lives," Bomberger said.
He added that not only is this program a way to make local government more transparent, but council benefits by having the youth perspective on issues they’re discussing.
"There are a lot of great ideas and great people in local government and community organizations like Venture Lititz or the Lititz Rotary Club. If we can bring kids in and show them how community service impacts the community it may rub off on them," he said.
Conrad is Lititz Borough Council’s third junior council member. Aaron Graybill, who is now a student at American University in Washington, D.C., was the first junior council member, followed by Anna Workman, a senior at Linden Hall. Workman’s term was July to December 2011.
She said that the opportunity was really great — through the junior council member program she had to opportunity to serve as a guest page for a day for the State House of Representatives.
"I originally became involved because I though it would be a great way to learn about my town. What I learned is that borough council was more complex that I originally thought — I didn’t realize that there were all the various committees and the variety of issues that council deals with. It was interesting to see how everyone works together to create the community that we have," she said.
Workman added that she may want to work in local government as an adult.
Conrad is considering that as well.
"Being involved as a junior council member has affected my decision for college studies. I had been thinking about government and political science in broad strokes, but this has helped me narrow the focus," she said.
Conrad also had some advice for her fellow students.
"I wish everyone my age would get the chance to sit in on a meeting, whether its borough council or township supervisors. It’s important to learn how government operates and the process of how decisions are made that affect our daily life," she said.
She urges students and residents to attend municipal meetings.
"I was really surprised at how few people attend meetings," said Conrad. More JUNIOR COUNCIL, page A3