It would be easy to dismiss Kevin Roden's newly formed Youth Advisory Council as just another political gimmick hatched by just another politician. There is plenty of that going around; there always has been.
Every penny-ante politico out there seems to have an "advisory committee" or two; as often as not, they're made up of the politician's cronies or dupes, and they exist primarily to churn out meaningless press releases favorable to their sponsor.
But Roden, who represents District 1 on the Denton City Council, seems to have a different agenda for his Youth Advisory Council. The formation of such a council was part of his campaign platform when he ran for office last May. He said then that he wanted to tap into the young members' concerns about issues meaningful to them and to instill in them an interest in and a basic knowledge of local government. He envisioned a body of between 10 and 20 young people in grades five through 12, most of them coming from District 1.
The Record-Chronicle's Bj Lewis reported in Thursday's paper that Roden had assembled a group of 19 students ranging in age from 11 to 18. They come from Denton and Ryan high schools, McMath, Harpool, Strickland and Calhoun middle schools, McNair Elementary School, Selwyn College Preparatory School and Lakeland Christian Academy.
Roden says he has some activities planned for his youth council members, but he also wants to hear from them as to what they want to learn about.
This, we think, is where the Youth Advisory Council can be of real value - not so much as an "advisory" body for Roden and/or the City Council, but as an educational tool for smart young kids who are interested in their local government. If they watch and listen closely, they will see city government up close and personal - how it works and how it doesn't, and why.
If they like what they see - or even if they don't - these students will end up with a better understanding of how their city operates. They will be better informed by their experience, and will be better citizens as adults, whether they end up living in Denton or in a city far away.
That is why we don't much care about Kevin Roden's intentions in forming his Youth Advisory Council. From what we have seen of him so far, Roden seems to be honestly committed to the council and its aims, but even if he isn't; even if it is just another political gimmick, some bright, interested young people are about to get a valuable civics lesson, and we can't see anything but good in that.