Hillie David Martinez Joins Governor’s New Youth Council at Beacon Hill Ceremony

Haverhill High School junior David Martinez and School Committee member Yonnie Collins stand on the Massachusetts State House Grand Staircase following Martinez’ swearing in as a member of the Governor’s New Youth Council. (WHAV News photograph.)

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Standing on the State House Grand Staircase with 60 other young representatives, David Martinez, a junior at Haverhill High School, was inducted as a member of Gov. Maura T. Healey’s new youth council yesterday.

Observing some of his peers cutting class and wandering the halls, Martinez said he hopes to work against “widespread apathy” at Haverhill High School. He loved his AP U.S. Government and Politics class, he said, organizing debates for Haverhill politicians as well as a voter awareness campaign. He said he has seen some of his classmates struggle to find similar outlets for their passions.

“Your zip code shouldn’t be a predictor of your future success,” he said. “Opportunity and engagement should be accessible to everybody, and that is what’s going to make a more productive and positively engaged community.”

“I feel like Haverhill gets a really bad rep in the news. What would prevent that is people being more engaged in the community,” he added.

Martinez also helped with School Committee member Yonnie Collins’ election campaign. She accompanied Martinez to the ceremony yesterday, along with his parents and AP U.S. Government teacher Shaun Ashworth.

Last fall, Healey began accepting applications to the youth council, open to those ages 16 to 21, to advise her office on education, youth violence, climate change, civic engagement and mental health. “Notwithstanding their ideas, energy and commitment, too often the voices of Massachusetts youth are not heard,” she wrote in the executive order establishing the group.

In her remarks before swearing in her new young advisors, Healey emphasized that they should not treat their roles merely as resume builders, saying they will “shift resources or shape policies.” She invoked Massachusetts’ history as a leader on progressive issues and the selective nature of the application process.

“At the end of the day, there was a lot of interest in joining the youth advisory council,” she said. “Each and every one of you was selected because of your leadership potential, because of who you’ve been, what you’ve demonstrated, and what you can be. So, you should feel great about that. You should also feel there’s a little bit of weight, of responsibility, because not everybody was selected to participate.”

Explaining the formation of the council, she said that 20% of Massachusetts residents are under 21 years old, and, coming of age during the rise of social media and the COVID-19 Pandemic, they face particularly challenging stressors.

The council will meet four times each year, with members serving for two years or until they turn 21. Members are not compensated.

Gov. Maura T. Healey discusses the importance of her Youth Council during a State House ceremony. (WHAV News photograph.)

Gov. Maura T. Healey, lower left, introduces the new Governor’s Youth Council. (WHAV News photograph.)

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