Serving the public is a learned skill, and Kohen Gilken has plenty of experience.
Following the career path of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez—one of the USA’s youngest and most successful politicians—Gilken has gone from serving tables to sitting at the City Council table at just 18 years old.
Young people getting involved in politics is a growing trend on VanIsle. And it looks like the public is here for it.
Gilken was just elected as a councillor for the village of Sayward, and he actually got the most votes of anyone who ran for the position.
“I was in awe, I was very happy, and I want to thank everybody who did vote for me,” Gilkin told CTV News.
He is just one of a lot of teens who’ve been getting involved in VanIsle politics. Only he’s definitely the one with the most formal position.
He said he’s gotten an overwhelmingly positive response since being elected.
“People are looking at me and thinking there’s new blood, he’s got new ideas, he’s open-minded to new things,” he said.
The main thing he’s hoping to bring to the table is a real open connection between politicians and the people who’ve elected them.
“I want to see transparency,” he said. “I want to see transparency with politicians and the civilians, we need to just focus on what we were elected to do, what people have used their civic duty to do in electing us to voice their concerns.”
Gilken is a third-generation Saywardian, and he wants to use his power to promote what makes the village such a beautiful place to live—and visit.
“It’s a beautiful town. I mean, you go around anywhere, and you can stop and take pictures, so I think me focusing on tourism especially is a big one,” he said.
He doesn’t plan to stick to being a city counsellor either. Once he’s got a few years under his belt, he wants to continue to grow his skillset into the realms of regional or federal politics even.
“It is time for the next generation to step up and take over where our grandparents and parents left off, and I really want to push forward and try to empower some of the younger people my age, a little bit older, a little bit younger, to get involved,” he said.
We’ll see who else ends up following in his footsteps.