Chandler’s all-teen Mayor’s Youth Commission was ready to get to work last week on finding ways the city can better serve its young residents.
Commissioners were supposed to simply hear explanations and discuss curfew issues raised after a recent police crackdown on violators at the Chandler Fashion Center led to nearly 130 arrests of youths.
But the commissioners didn’t seem content with just a fact-finding meeting. The group, mainly Chandler high school students, was ready to start looking at solutions, such as advertising campaigns to make parents and children aware of the curfew law.
The youth commission, likes others in other East Valley cities, is designed to teach members about government and various civic issues.
This is the first time anyone’s ever asked the commission for input on such an issue since it was established nine years ago. Until now, commissioners spent their time planning fundraisers or putting on a citywide teen job fair and talent show.
The group is expected to bring recommendations to the City Council on how to provide alternatives to hanging out at shopping malls for Chandler’s teens and how city and police officials can better inform the public about the curfew and how it’s enforced.
They won’t, however, get very far if they suggest actual changes to the city ordinance, since it’s based on a countywide curfew law that has the same restrictions.
Their meetings, which are public like City Council meetings, rarely drew an audience and never attracted news reporters and TV cameras.
Until last week that is.
"I was pretty nervous," said the commission’s 16-year-old chairwoman, Heather DeVoe. "We never have that many people."
DeVoe, who joined the commission about a year ago, wanted to head the Mayor’s Youth Commission to get over her fear of public speaking. She spent at least an hour preparing to run the meeting with Sara C de Baca, who manages Chandler’s teen programs and acts as a city liaison to the commission.
"I thought the meeting could have gone a lot smoother," DeVoe said. "I blame myself for a lot of that. I was nervous."
Not everyone would agree with DeVoe, however.
"I really thought they did really well," Chandler recreation manager Barbara Young said. "I certainly felt they were taking this issue to heart."
At 15, commissioner Juilian Hardy is required by law to be at home or with a parent after 10 p.m. But he’s fine with that.
"I think the curfew is a good idea," he said. "But I do think we need to have other activities or another venue for teens in Chandler."
All commissioners are required to put in at least 25 hours of community service each month — on top of their work on the commission.
For Hardy, who also volunteers twice a month answering phones at Chandler Regional Hospital, his commissioner experience might just lead to bigger and better things.
"I like government," he said. "I was actually thinking about being a city manager."