WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Topeka, KS Mayor Michelle De La Isla is in Washington, D.C. this week with a focus on future generations. At the 88th Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting, she is pushing for more engagement with young people. To help highlight the importance of future generations, she brought a Topeka youth leader along for the ride.
Topeka youth commission leader Bryce Lietdke speaks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting. (Source: Gray DC)
“Get them invested in your community so that they do want to stay,” advised Bryce Liedtke to a room full of mayors Thursday. Lietdke is the founder of a youth commission in Topeka.
The Topeka native admits he hated Topeka and wanted to leave after high school. But when he learned more about his community, he felt a connection that made him want to stay and help convince others to do the same.
“I think it’s going to bring a lot of positive change for the future,” said Liedtke.
Young people like Liedtke lead the panel discussion at the winter meeting while mayors took notes. Liedtke wants young people to have a voice in every city on big issues that will affect Americans for years to come, like gun violence, climate change, and youth suicide.
“Bring that youth voice to the table and show youth that voting matters,” said Liedtke.
In 2020, voting matters to Mayor De La Isla as much as anyone as she looks to unseat Rep. Steve Watkins (R-KS) in Kansas’ Second Congressional District.
“I think it’s going to be a really big part of this election season,” said De La Isla.
She says it is important to stop treating young people as the future of our social and political landscape, but rather as current leaders. She says young people like Liedtke are changing Topeka for the better and are doing so on a broader scale around the country.
“I always have believed that it’s important to involve them and empower their voices,” said De La Isla.
This winter meeting comes to a close Friday afternoon. A trip down the street to the White House will cap off the three day gathering.
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