Policy Mic is this great community based news site powered by Millennials. They just published a Q&A with Svante Myrick, who: “would have been considered an unlikely candidate to become the youngest mayor in Ithaca, New York’s history. Raised by a single mother, Myrick and his three siblings spent nights in homeless shelters and relied on the local food pantry when money was tight. Yet, inspired by his mother’s perseverance and work ethic, Myrick worked his way through Cornell University and at 24 was elected mayor of the City of Ithaca.” Svante has recently been closely mentored by Cory Booker. Heres are a few quotes from the interview where he talks about himself:
SM: A few times we were very, very poor and a few times we were homeless. We spent weeks or months in homeless shelters, the longest stints lasted a few months. It was tough. [Going through that], you can see how powerful a community of support is. How a family has to be part of that, friends have to be part of that, the government has to be part of that. I still believe a smart energetic government is a positive thing for our society. (…)
I thought I had something to contribute. I loved [Ithaca], and I wanted to be useful, and I thought I could be useful. The average age in Ithaca is only 20 years old, and there weren’t any students on the ten-person City Council. There were a lot of issues that were being ignored, renters right to infrastructure upgrades, and a number of issues in the teenage community in Ithaca.
DS: You are also one of the youngest elected African-Americans in U.S. history. How do you see this achievement?
SM: It’s overwhelming a bit. A large part of that achievement doesn’t belong to me. I’m only allowed to be elected because of what black Americans did before me. It was not something I used to think about a lot, but once a teenage boy told me that he was in City Hall, and he was stopped in the elevator and asked “Hey, are you the mayor?” As a young black teenager in this country, he gets confused for a lot of things. People follow him around in stores, people walk on the other side of the street when they see him, but he was never assumed to be a figure of authority. He was never mistaken for someone who should be looked up to and respected. It changed the way he saw himself, and I think that’s pretty cool.
SM: There’s this myth that says serving in government has to be a second career. Young people have something valuable to contribute right now with their energy, with their creativity, and with their moral authority. Government needs these values right now. So if you want to serve, jump right in.