Fort Worth city leaders are finding success in their mission to get younger citizens involved in city government.
Keome Rowe, an assistant to Mayor Betsy Price and the director of Steer FW, said less than two-percent of the people who voted in the mayoral run-off election were between the ages of 20 and 40. The goal of Steer FW is to get folks in that age range involved and over the last year hundreds have.
Rowe says at least 300 people were involved in four different task forces set up last year. Those task forces focused on education, employment, public transit and urban development. On Friday, those people and 100 others participated in the "Big Brainstorm" event. They took on the challenge of coming up with service type projects in the areas of homelessness, arts and culture and health and wellness.
Hannah Behrens is the Chair of the Urban Development Task Force and she helped lead a group on Friday. It's an opportunity to give back that she says she jumped at.
"It's really exciting to see how we can all come together and share our skills and make an impact," Behrens said. "And really how few people it takes to make an impact."
Behrens said a small number took the lead in the task forces and have helped keep the movement in going. In Urban Development they organized a photo contest to encourage residents to highlight the parts of the city that they enjoyed and elements they would like to see elsewhere in Cowtown. Behrens says her group also is working with the Build a Better Block program to help individual streets and neighborhoods come up with example of what their communities could look like.
"It makes you get fired up and just all excited, that yeah, that's my city, that's what I like to do," Behrens said.
That kind of enthusiasm is what Mayor Betsy Price was hoping to find when she helped create the idea last year. Price was unable to attend the brainstorming event on Friday as she testified before a state committee in Austin on pensions. However, she left behind a video message encouraging the young leaders.
One of her assistants, Rowe is leading the effort and says it's important to get younger people involved.
"There's a huge demographic of young people coming to Fort Worth," Rowe said. "And so we need to know what they want in their communities and what they want them to look like because we're the ones that are going to inherit this in the next 10-15 years."
State Sen. Wendy Davis and city councilman Joel Burns addressed the group on Friday, with both encouraging the younger crowd's participation in city government. Burns said he's already been impressed with what the 20-40 year olds have come up with.
"They've made some incredible presentations," Burns said. "There are all kind of examples in our communities that have come out of this project and hopefully there's a lot more to come."
The existing task forces are continuing their work and the new ones are just getting focused on what change these new leaders can have in Fort Worth when it comes to homelessness, health and wellness and arts and culture. Behrens said the mayor doesn't expect full blown solutions to the city's problems, but that every effort is important.
"She just loves even just those little steps," Behrens said. "Because it does give you that excitement and energy to keep creating and keep moving forward."
Most all of Steer FW's events are free and anyone is able to join and contribute ideas. Click on this sentence to learn more information on Steer FW.