Belmont Gets A Fresh Voice

Good for Belmont Village Council and good for its newest member, Saraina Wise.

Wise was sworn in during council’s meeting last Thursday, for a term that ends in May. She will not be able to cast votes during council meetings.

A senior at Union Local High School, Wise was chosen from among several students who applied for the special seat on council. She is not entirely a stranger to village officials, having served as “mayor for a day” last year.

It is not uncommon for local government entities, including boards of education, to include students in their activities. In the vast majority of such situations, the young people sit in on one or two meetings, then are gone.

This is different. Wise will be expected to show up at council meetings for several months. That should give her, and council, enough time to make her a real part of municipal government — if only one without voting power.

Wise will gain quite an education in that time, learning much about the trials and travails of local government that is not covered in textbooks or classroom lectures.

But in all likelihood, the village will benefit, too.

We hear frequently about the need for “fresh voices” and “new blood” on local boards, councils and commissions. You don’t get much fresher than a high school student.

Let us hope Wise is encouraged to participate extensively in discussions about challenges and opportunities facing Belmont. There is something to be said for opinions based on idealism.

It will be interesting to see how the Belmont experiment turns out. Our guess is that village officials will be glad they took Wise on board. Perhaps leaders in other Ohio Valley communities should consider similar programs.

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