By Polly Keary, Editor
Monroe’s city council members hope to represent the values and concerns of the people who voted for them, whether parents, business owners or senior citizens.
Brandon Harano is there to represent those not old enough to vote.
Harano, 17, a senior at Monroe High School, is Monroe’s first-ever student representative to the Monroe City Council, and he is now working to find ways to reach out to students of all ages in the Monroe School District in order to relay their issues to the city government.
Spearheaded by Monroe City Councilman Jim Kamp, in September the city passed a resolution creating a position for a student representative.
The position is patterned on the program in Sultan, where the city council has had a student representative for the past 12 years. Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick has said that the position has been good not only for students but for the city.
The student representative doesn’t vote or share the dais, but receives the council agendas and is encouraged to participate in discussions that impact youth.
Representatives will also be able to bring forward issues of concern to students.
Harano heard about the position from an over-the-intercom announcement at the high school.
“I’m pretty active in student government, and I thought it be a cool way to not only express my concerns and opinions to the city but send or to convey the messages of students to the city,” he said.
He filled out the application and was one of a number of students to interview for the position.
It was his interest in civics and opportunities for graduates that made him stand out, according to Kamp.
Harano attended his first meeting this month, and was already prepared to bring up an issue of interest to Monroe High School students.
“If you’ve been up to the high school the walls are painted red and blue, and the school colors are orange and black, and it’s been a topic of discussion since my freshman year,” he said. “It confuses students. Why paint the school red and blue when our colors are orange and black? I want to get approval to go forward and paint the school walls orange and black.”
Understanding that there are costs and labor associated with repainting walls, he suggested that the color change would be a good senior project, and that local hardware stores might be willing to donate some supplies.
Harano thinks that if the city council expresses support, it will carry weight with the school board, to whom he will eventually make his pitch.
“It could improve school spirit and make students come together,” he said.
But that’s just one idea, he said. He is sure there are others. So now he is looking for ways to get ideas from other students, not just at Monroe High School, but all the schools, including the alternative schools and the middle and elementary schools.
So he is asking students with ideas or concerns for the city council to call him at (425) 530-9028 or to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He will serve on the council for the rest of his senior year and perhaps the summer, and then will head off for college, which he hopes will be USC, to study psychology; although he is interested in studying in Japan, as well.
Until then, he is already learning a lot as a council representative, he said.
“It’s starting off great,” he said.