Measure Would Give Teens a Voice in Important Community Issues

Bill Lowers Age of Appointment to a New York City Community Board from Eighteen to Sixteen

Queens, NY – Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows) and Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) announced a new law they authored to lower the minimum age of appointment to a New York City Community Board from eighteen-years-old to sixteen-years-old. Governor Cuomo signed the legislation into law and it is effective immediately.

“This new law will empower our youth and give them the chance to offer their perspective on a variety of issues in their communities,” said Assemblywoman Rozic. “By lowering the age of eligibility, we are opening up the potential to transform community boards, reach out to our young people in a positive way, and involve them in the democratic process as soon as possible.”

“Community boards play an important role in improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers and they are intended to represent a diverse range of perspectives on the issues that come before them,” said Senator Andrew Lanza. “Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds should be encouraged to engage in civic discourse and serve their communities. This new law will permit our youth to apply for community board membership and give them the opportunity to add their unique and fresh perspective which would undoubtedly benefit communities on Staten Island and across the City. I thank Governor Cuomo, Assemblywoman Rozic, Manhattan Borough President Brewer and members of the City Council for their support on this important legislation.”

Sarah Andes, NYC Site Director for Generation Citizen said, “This is a great step forward for the people of New York City. Our communities are strongest when their leaders hear from a diverse range of voices, and young people have an important perspective to share.”

Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “Community board members represent and address a wide range of local concerns in New York City, including many issues that are important to the city’s youth. As community boards represent a unique opportunity for all members of the community to engage in civic discourse and serve their neighborhood, it makes sense to have 16- and 17-year-olds contribute their valued perspectives. This legislation will help our teens become more active in the community while at the same time preparing them to be our city’s next generation of bright, ambitious civic leaders.”

Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh said, “We know that many teenagers are ready and able to participate in civic life. With this new law they’ll finally have a chance to experience the opportunities and challenges of taking a seat on one of our most important local institutions: the Community Board. I congratulate and thank Senator Lanza and especially Assemblymember Rozic—who has championed this bill and the cause of youth empowerment for many years—for getting this done!”

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said, “Community boards are dynamic and vital parts of City government. This law is an exciting initiative for New York City’s young adults to become civically engaged in their neighborhood. The unique opportunity I was given as a teenager to join my local community board was a formative experience – helping to shape my view of community planning and my life in government. I commend Assemblymember Rozic, Senator Lanza and Governor Cuomo for their commitment in passing this legislation into law.”

“I have had the honor of working with literally hundreds of interns over the years and have seen first-hand the meaningful role that young people can play in shaping policy and enhancing our neighborhoods,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “This new law will further promote civic participation as well as add valuable youth perspectives and diverse skill sets to our community boards. I have advocated for this for years, and can’t wait to welcome the first group of 16 and 17-year-olds.”

“Not only will this new law expand the opportunities for young people, it will also allow for each board’s youth committee to hear from the community they serve. I was involved in civic activity in my teenage years, and I know how important it is for our young people to have a voice within the official process. This new law will allow us to create such opportunities, and I am proud to support this incredible expansion of our community boards’ membership,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“There are 8.3 million people in our city, and 20 percent of them are under the age of 18. These New Yorkers can now have a voice on their local community boards,” said New York City Council Member Ben Kallos. “When Scott Stringer was 16, he was appointed to his local board. He helped his community and laid the groundwork for a lifetime of public service. I believe we will see many more stories like this one now that young people can serve on their boards. I congratulate Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Senator Andrew Lanza on passing this legislation, and thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing it into law.”

“Our bright and talented sixteen and seventeen-year-olds need a venue where they can voice their concerns and ideas for improving our neighborhoods. The community board process provides such an outlet and would greatly benefit from their injection of exuberance, a can-do attitude, and the kind of creativity that only young people bring to the table,” said Council Member Mark Levine “By creating opportunities for additional youth to join our boards, we also will help the next generation of leaders grasp the virtues of public service at a formative age and impart in them the skills to navigate the many challenges they will face in the coming years.”

“On behalf of the Police Athletic League, and the Teens On Board Coalition, we thank you for validating the voices and work of dozens of youth service and civic engagement groups who helped to gain passage of Public Officer Law legislation allowing fully vetted teens to come to the community advisory table,” said Al Kurland of the Police Athletic League. “To paraphrase a poem often quoted by another Governor Cuomo, you have ‘expanded the circle to let teen leaders in’.”

The legislation was first introduced in the State Legislature in 2008. This year the City Council passed Resolution 0115 in support of the legislation.

“Having served on my local Community Board, I know firsthand that this opportunity will not only benefit the futures of those appointed, but it will also begin a new dialogue between all members about how our communities can be better served,” added Rozic.

New York City’s 59 Community Boards will now open up their application process to sixteen- and-seventeen-year olds and their ability to contribute will be evaluated, just as other prospective members’ qualifications are evaluated.