Nome-Beltz High School student Paris Hebel serves as the Nome Common Council Youth Representative. It’s a position the students at Nome-Beltz Middle High School elect one of their own to every year. While the youth representative holds no voting power on the council, Hebel can participate in council discussions and provide a younger person’s perspective on council business.
Hebel sees public health and public safety as some of the most important issues facing Nome during his term.
“Obviously COVID, because that is affecting the world right now, and is a large issue. But I also see substance abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual assault cases — I think those are some of the largest issues impacting this community,” Hebel said.
Hebel wants to see the council explore alternative approaches to addressing issues such as substance abuse.
“I think that instead of going after people for drug abuse, or alcohol abuse … I think we should help lift them up out of where they are, instead of trying to put them in jail or fine them for something or anything like that. I think we should try to help those people instead, using meetings where they can help each other and get through their things. I think that we need to talk about them and talk with them more,” Hebel said.
The youth representative position is still fairly new for Nome — the council created the position less than three years ago, in October 2019. Hebel appreciates the opportunity to be a voice for the young people of Nome.
“I think it’s very cool that the city council wants to hear a voice from the youth. … That’s a very good feeling, wanting to be heard,” Hebel said.
Hebel was sworn in on Nov. 8, 2021 and will serve as the Youth Representative until September of 2022, when the Nome-Beltz student body elects a new student to the position.
Image at top: Nome City Clerk Bryant Hammond (right) attends the Nov. 8 meeting of the Nome Common Council. Photo by Sean Milligan, KNOM (2021).