Clayton County’s Youth Commission gets involved in local elections by hosting candidate forums 

The Youth Commission of Clayton County hosted a series of candidate forums last week to learn more about who's running in this year's local elections. (Photo courtesy of Clayton County Youth Services)

The Clayton County Youth Commission moderated a series of public forums last week for county residents to meet the candidates running in local elections. 

Candidates running for various races including county commission chair and sheriff hope to gain some traction in the primary election, which is scheduled for May 21.  

Seventeen-year-old Miata Harris serves as the youth commission chair. She says planning the forums kept her up-to-date on issues in the county.

“It’s no secret. Clayton County has been in the news a lot, especially for the situation in the jails — especially with our former sheriff,” Harris said. “Now that I’m almost voting age, what are the candidates looking like? Who is the best person to fix the county because we grew up here?”

The forums featured questions from the youth commissioners and residents of Clayton County. Some of their top concerns were about public safety and mental health for minors.

Emani Madison, 17, is a member of the youth commission. She wants elected officials to take more initiative in caring for Clayton County neighborhoods. 

“My neighborhood, we have a pool, but our pool hasn’t been open in almost 10 years,” Madison said. “So I feel like there should be some kind of governmental program or something to help neighborhoods who have amenities that aren’t being used, and help them to get those back up.”

Members of the youth commission say the forums were a success, but one of their main challenges was keeping the adults on task. 

Ciara Dunn is the youth commission’s program coordinator. She believes the members are an example for young people throughout the county. 

“It’s definitely important for the adults to see youth in the community doing candidate forums being positive role models because oftentimes, it’s highlighted [that] of troubled kids, but it’s not always advocated or expressed or shown about youth actually making a positive impact and their community,” Dunn said. 

Clayton County residents can learn more about the election by visiting the county’s elections and registration page.