Facts uncovered in BocaWatch’s effort to message the ‘millennial’ generation:
1) In 2012, 44 million eligible voters were millennials. 29% of all eligible voters;
2) In 2018, there will be more millennials than boomers in the voting age population;
3) By 2030 millennials will outnumber boomers by 22 million.
Millennials now make up an overwhelming political force if all their eligible voters vote…
Politicians beware…….They are here and they are here to stay!!!!
Al Zucaro, Publisher
As Boca’s March elections approach, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what they mean for me, others of my generation, and those who surround us. Simply put, as young (or “younger”) people, which issues are most important to us, and who is going to advocate on our behalf? Below, I outline what I believe are five relevant concerns facing my peers and I. Although I certainly do not speak for all young people, and although this list is very far from exhaustive, I hope to offer some perspective from an often overlooked and taken-for-granted demographic. (*Issues are reviewed in no particular order.)
1. Political Representation, Transparency, and Accountability – First and foremost, because we inherit the consequences of the decisions made by those who come before us, we need representatives who are willing to make decisions based not on political expediency but instead on what will be best for residents and the future of the city. This means making decisions that might be immediately unpopular in an effort to realize a greater good. Relatedly, we need representatives that are transparent and willing to hold themselves accountable. We are all humans and make mistakes. But how willing is the representative to admit his or her shortcomings? Does this representative vote on the principles he or she ran on? Do votes seem to conveniently align themselves with dollars? We need a representative who is willing to advocate for ALL Boca residents, especially those who may lack a strong voice.
2. Local Universities – As an FAU alumnus and current educator, I hope we find representatives that will continue forging relationships with our local universities. FAU has long been known as a “commuter” school and is rapidly taking on elements that make it a destination school as well. Lynn and PBSC’s reputations should not be overlooked either. We should do whatever we can to encourage these young, diverse, and educated populations to stay. Further, the city should use its universities as the invaluable resources that they are: hire art/music students for public performances and displays, have social science departments conduct local studies, etc. These kinds of projects would increase solidarity between the city and the university, and it is this sort of mutual investment that will hopefully encourage students and others to stay permanently.
3. Affordable Housing – Boca residents talk about “renters,” “students,” and “affordable housing” as if they were nuclear bombs designed to unravel the fabric of civilization and middle-class respectability. It is hyperbole at best and discriminatory at worst. It is no secret that many of the hard working people that make Boca function on a daily basis cannot afford to actually live here. Further, it discourages the types of young people described above from potentially starting lives here. It is wildly unrealistic to assume most young people coming out of college will be able to immediately afford the kind of housing that is common in Boca, or to assume that they necessarily want to. We need representatives who will not be bullied by empty rhetoric. The more time we spend decrying the mythical and unsubstantiated horrors or rentals, rental units, and affordable housing, the more young and educated students, workers, and entrepreneurs we lose.
4. Supporting Local Businesses and Creating Jobs – We need representatives who are going to champion local businesses. As Mr. John Gore has pointed out in a previous BocaWatch article, there are at least a handful of technical issues that have stifled small businesses’ ability to operate. Beyond those issues, we need representatives who are willing to look beyond Boca’s copious overpriced Mc’Steakhouses and focus on fostering unique and innovative businesses. For example, every single beer-drinking resident in Boca should know how fortunate we are to have a brewery like Barrel of Monks. Besides the immense care they take in their craft, beer is big business. Cigar City Brewing, located in the city of Tampa, sold for tens of millions of dollars before it reached its 10th birthday. Creating opportunities for businesses like these to flourish will enrich Boca economically and culturally.
5. Culture, Parks, and Recreation – I must be frank: Boca is kind of boring for many young people. We are never going to compete with places like Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, and that is neither expected nor desired by most residents – myself included. However, it would be nice to bring a little bit more diversity and nightlife to the city. I believe the current downtown waterfront redevelopment, which largely mirrors the resident-driven 2020 Vision, is a major step in the right direction. If executed correctly, this space could be viably used from morning to late at night, serving different uses for different demographics during different parts of the day. But beyond this, we need representative who are able to mobilize local resources and networks to bring in artists, creative entrepreneurs, and others who will contribute to the cultural milieu of the city. Further, we need representatives who are willing to champion public space and protect the fragile and invaluable environment that Boca is lucky to find itself in.
As noted above, these are just a few of the many concerns that weigh on the minds of Boca’s younger populations. Certainly, other issues such as K-12 schooling and development, which have been debated extensively on this platform and elsewhere, are important, especially as many young families begin what is hopefully a long history of calling Boca home. But the intent of this particular article is to point out some of the issues and perspectives that are unique to young people, and to hopefully pressure representatives to talk, listen, and legislate for us. As the elections near, I hope to cover more issues and ultimately take a stance on which candidates I believe have young peoples’ interests at heart. Stay tuned!