FRAMINGHAM – The 13-member Framingham Youth Council is seeking new members starting July 1, 2023.
Individuals ages 13 to 22 are eligible to serve on the Council, as long as they are Framingham residents.
Interested applicants can apply by emailing email@example.com
In 2019, then Framingham High senior Isabella Petroni researched and wrote legislation to create the Framingham Youth Council. The citizen ordinance passed the 11-member Framingham City Council unanimously. That summer, 13 youths were appointed to the Youth Council, one by each City Councilor, and two by the Mayor. Petroni was elected the first Chair of the Youth Council with Chloe Mills Vice Chair.
Editor’s Note: in full transparency, Petroni is the daughter of the editor of the SOURCE.
But since 2022, the 13-member Framingham Youth Council has struggled to achieve a quorum due to some City Councilors not appointing members. With a 13-member Council, a minimum of seven members must attend.
District 7 City Councilor Leora Mallach, who was sworn in on January 1, 2022, has never made an appointment to the Youth Council. Her District 7 seat has been open since July 1, 2021.
“I wish I had an easy answer,” said Councilor Mallach on why she has never filled the District 7 spot on the Youth Council.
“I had a conversation with (current Chair) Chloe Mills a while ago and was hoping to find somebody to fill the District 7 youth council seat that had been vacant since I joined the Council. … Unfortunately, there are a lot of open seats on our City’s boards. I’ve been working hard to find folks interested in serving, especially those who are newer to the Framingham community. I don’t have strong networks in our high school community, and reached out to staff I know at FHS to see if they had any ideas at one point,” said Mallach. “I think the Youth Council is an asset to Framingham, and had the opportunity to share their excellent work with somebody from Waltham, who reached out about passing an ordinance making female hygiene products available in all municipal buildings. Their work is on the map!”
District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini has not made an appointment for the District 8 seat in 2 years. The seat has been open since July 1, 2021.
“There is little interest in serving on the Youth Commission owing to a lack of clearly defined responsibilities. It needs to be reconstituted and reinvigorated, including adding ex-ofico members with a specific role, into a sustainable structure,” said Councilor Stefanini, on why he has not filled the District 8 seat.
District 9 City Councilors Tracey Bryant has also not appointed an individual to the District 9 seat this term. She did not respond to a request from digital media outlet on why she has not filled the seat.
City Council Chair Phil Ottaviani Jr. said “I am disappointed that we don’t have a full Youth Council. Hopefully each district Councilor will recruit candidates for their district seats.”
At-large City Councilor Janet Leombruno has yet to fill the opening on the Youth Council, when its founder resigned, due to the Steiner rule, which prohibited an elected leader to be appointed to a Board, Committee or Commission. Petroni served until December 31, 2021, when she resigned so she could be sworn in as an elected Library Trustee.
Leombruno has reached out to a couple of youths and said she has found someone to replace Petroni, and will ask for it to be put on the agenda soon.
The last time City Councilors appointed new Youth Councilors was in November of 2021, when current Chair of the Youth Council Mills was appointed to another 2-year term, which ends on June 30, 2023, by at-large City Councilor George P.King Jr.
As of July 1, 2023, there will be 13 seats available on the 13-member Youth Council.
“It is disappointing to learn that the Youth Council has been unable to meet due to a lack of members. This group has been a valuable contributor to civic life in the city and we should do our part to ensure it has the resources it needs. I was not aware that there were unfilled vacancies but I have asked the City Council Chair to post the position as soon as possible,” said District 3 City Councilor Adam Steiner.
“I met with the District 3 representative, Natalie Stevens, in August and we talked about some of her goals for the Council and I was encouraged by her enthusiasm and look forward to great things from the Council going forward,” said Councilor Steiner, who served as the first advisor to the Youth Council.
Former District 5 City Councilor Robert Case was the second advisor to the Youth Council.
The advisor assists the Youth Council with City issues, city rules, and even Open Meeting Law questions.
It appears that some of the Youth Councils who were appointed were never sworn in by the City Clerk. That is something the advisor would have explained is important to the Youth Councilors.
Current District 5 City Councilor Noval Alexander is the current advisor. He attended the March 2023 Youth Council meeting.
“I just wanted to express my apologies to you guys for we’ve, we’ve dropped the ball as far as our subcommittee drop the ball and being a tutor and mentor to you guys. And I know there’s some other issues as far as appointments going on with the city Councilors and I assure you that I will address it this coming weeks and I will talk to each Councilor to try to get that back on track and moving forward,” said Councilor Alexander to the 8 Youth Councilors in attendance at the March 2023 meeting. “Each of you can reach out to me, call, email me at any time if you have any questions or issues that you want to raise. And I would like also to invite you guys to our next subcommittee meeting.”
Current members of the Youth Council include:
Chair Chloe Mills, appointed by Councilor King for 2-year term that ends on June 30, 2023
Vice Chair Hamza Riflki, appointed by Mayor, for term that ends June 30, 2023
District 1 – Jordan Summerfield – her term ended on June 30, 2022, but no new Councilor was appointed
District 2 – Mason Garofalo – his term ended on June 30, 2022, but no new Councilor was appointed.
District 3 – Natalie Stevens – her term ended on June 30, 2022, but no new Councilor was appointed.
District 4 – Ashwina Bengari – her term ended on June 30, 2022, but no new Councilor was appointed
District 5 – Marilyn Rifki – she was appointed by Robert Case, and her term ended on June 30, 2022 but no new Councilor was appointed
District 6 – Ali Jones – her term ended on June 30,2022 but no new Councilor was appointed.
District 7 – open
District 8 – open
District 9 – open
Mayoral seat – Alex Dailida, term ends on June 30, 2023
At-Large City Council seat – open
There was some issue of Councilors not being sworn in, but Youth Councilors once sworn in the first time retain their seat until a new appointment is made. Some of the Councilors said they did not realize they needed to be sworn in again, even though a letter was sent to them telling they needed to be sworn in for each term.
Framingham Youth Councilors hold remote meeting in March 2023