The Alabama YMCA Youth in Government media staff asked each 2018 youth gubernatorial candidate the same three questions. This is the second installment of the Q & A with 2018 gubernatorial candidates:
What characteristics are most important for a Youth in Government leader?
How do you embody those characteristics?
Jezzia Smith: The characteristics that are most important for a youth in government leader include the ability to create other leaders, flexibility, experience, dedication and passion. Personally, I have taken part in the initiation of two separate delegations. One in Cherokee County and one in Mobile. Starting my seventh grade year, I participated on the debate team as the captain, however, it was not until my eighth grade year, when I first participated in the Youth in Government experience, that I became fully involved. Soon after Junior Youth Legislature, I became the vice president of the Cherokee County delegation as well as a Student Government Association senator at my school. In the next year I then gained my first position in the program as the District One Chairperson and later that year Supreme Court Justice. In that same year, I moved to Mobile before the legislative conference and my new school did not have the Youth in Government Program, so my goal was to start a program before I graduate. I know this program has given many people amazing opportunities, new friends and a broad horizon of opposing perspectives; so, why would I not want others to experience this program like I have? This year along with receiving the position of District 4 Chair and receiving a position on Youth Governor Ford Cleveland’s Cabinet, I have made great leaps for the new delegation. It is even possible to have a Baker delegation for this upcoming Judicial!
Jezzia Smith is a 16-year-old junior at Baker High School in Mobile. She is the daughter of Kacey York and Kenny York.
Claudia Hubbard: A Youth in Government leader should be passionate and selfless above all things. My passion for Youth in Government is the driving force behind my determination to improve and advance the program. I love YIG and the people involved in it. I don’t do anything for selfish gain when it comes to the program. I strive to do what’s best for the conference and delegates as a whole.
Claudia Hubbard is a junior at Saint James School in Montgomery. Her parents are Sabrina and Bryan Hubbard.
Olivia Pride: There are important characteristics that should be found in a youth governor. The first, is the ability to listen to the concerns of the people they serve. So simply put, a youth governor should be compassionate. Another characteristic would be humbleness. No one wants an arrogant youth governor who believes they know everything. A youth governor must be able to sit down and talk things out even when they disagree because everything is not black and white, and the opinion of others is a great way to learn what you might not know. And lastly, a youth governor must be a friend to everyone. That’s why I hug everyone I meet. You never know the type of day someone has had, and a simple hug could make someone feel better. I feel I embody all of these characteristics because I wake up every day looking for someone to help or encourage. I do not look for recognition in everything I do or live for the applause of others. I do things for people because I truly care about them and that is the type of heart a youth governor should have.
Olivia Pride is a 16-year-old junior at Spain Park High School in Hoover. She is the daughter of Kimberly Pride.
Abbreviated versions of the above responses appear in the Feb. 24, 2017, edition of TomorrowToday, the Alabama YMCA Youth in Government newspaper.