Abigail Savitch-Lew

Inwood Community Board 12's Business Development Committee hears a presentation by the Department of Small Business Services on Tuesday, February 6.

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On Election Day, New York City residents will have a chance to vote on three ballot measures. City Limits welcomes op-eds from anyone with a position on one or all of them. Let us know if you want to weigh in.
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When New Yorkers go to the polls on Tuesday, November 6th, they should “flip their ballot” and vote yes on question 3 to establish term limits for community boards.

Community boards are a great way for young people to get active in their community. A fun fact that most New Yorkers probably don’t know: In 2014, the minimum age to join a board was lowered to 16. So now 16- and 17-year-olds can serve on community boards alongside adults and participate in the most grassroots local decision-making. Sadly, there are not many young people on community boards and that means their voice is not reflected in our local democracy.

Voting yes on to create term limits on community boards will open up the process so that more young people, like me, can apply, and, hopefully, get appointed to their local community board.

Unfortunately, I applied but did not get appointed to my local community board. Our city needs more teens appointed onto community boards because it doesn’t just only allow them to voice their opinions, it gives them a vehicle to drive local change. Community boards could be a pipeline to get more teens active in politics and civic engagement. I have met multiple teens who applied to a community board but our applications went unanswered.

The current generation is hungry to effect change in their community. They just aren’t given many platforms to do so. Now that 16- and 17-year-olds are able to serve on community boards by law, more should be done to raise awareness with youth about the role of community boards and encourage them to apply to serve.

If approved, question 3 would also ensure a more robust and standardized application process, which varies from borough to borough. The application process to be appointed onto a community board should be changed, so that everyone applying to the board would know their application status at every step in the process.

I encourage all New Yorkers to vote yes on question 3 to open up community boards to the youth passionate who are excited to be active in local decision-making on gentrification, and quality of life issues.

Kenneth Lee is a freshman at Medgar Evers College.