Somerset Ward to get new youth cabinet rep

By Sydnia Yu

The Somerset Ward will get a new representative on the Ottawa Youth Cabinet, but it may take a few weeks.

“The goal is to have a person in place as soon as possible,” says Somerset Ward Coun. Elisabeth Arnold. “Hopefully, we’ll have a hard choice to make because there’s so many good applicants.”

Stephani Roy, supervisor of advisory committees and boards, says she received four or five applications by last week’s deadline. She says she’s fairly certain they’ll be able to select a suitable representative.

The position has been vacant since November when former Somerset Ward representative Leonardo Farren was automatically disqualified from membership after failing to attend three consecutive cabinet meetings since the committee’s inauguration in August. The position would normally go to a reserve member, but the Somerset Ward did not have one.

The committee normally recruits in March and appoints members in June. But for two weeks in January, the unexpected opening was advertised through newspapers, high schools and youth and community organizations.

“We felt it was important not to leave the position empty for that long,” says Roy.

Russell Ullyatt, co-chair of the cabinet, says the absence of a Somerset representative has not hindered their operations, but he would like to see the seat filled. “We’ve taken on an aggressive work plan, so the more people who can help us, the better.”

The cabinet is currently creating a Web site, organizing the upcoming Teen Expo and Ottawa Capital Games and developing a transit report.

Cabinet co-ordinator Lisa MacLeod also stresses the importance of having young people from each of Ottawa’s 21 city wards represented on the cabinet. “It mirrors city council, so it’s important to have that voice,” she says. “Each [ward] brings something to the council.”

Submissions for the two-year term position include a letter of application and a resumé. Candidates must be between the ages of 15 to 25 and live in the Somerset Ward.

The ward councillor makes a recommendation to an advisory committee, which is then passed on to city council who finalizes the decision. The position is appointed based on an interview, volunteer experiences, personal goals, time commitment and involvement and understanding of the issues of the youth community in the ward.

A reserve member might also be selected.