By Tony Parra
uesday afternoon gave Representative Joe Campos and Portales High School Junior Joderick Rodriguez a chance to talk about the concerns of the Portales Youth.
The two met to discuss surveys sent out by Rodriguez and to find out what problems youth are having and what bothers them the most in eastern New Mexico. Campos serves for the house of representatives to represent District 63, which is Debaca, Curry, Guadalupe and Roosevelt counties.
“I am amazed by his maturity and his opinion to solving some of the problems youth face,” Campos said. “He is six or seven years ahead in his maturity. Through honesty and understanding they (youth) can deal with the important issues. Many young people would like to return to Portales after they get their college education and work here.”
Campos, the mayor of Santa Rosa, said he made the trip to Portales to discuss youth issues with Rodriguez, Roosevelt County Commission chairman Dennis Lopez and Janine Elder of the Youth Opportunities Center.
Rodriguez is one of the 56 other high school students to the New Mexico Youth Alliance, also known as the Children’s Cabinet. Gov. Bill Richardson swore in Rodriguez in mid-March to the Children’s Cabinet.
“I get ideas from students in other communities,” Rodriguez said. “They offer different perspectives from their communities. Hopefully we can gather the ideas and solve all of the communities problems state-wide.”
Campos said it is important to create an environment with job opportunities and a good quality of life. One of Rodriguez’ task was to hand out surveys to teens in Clovis, Fort Sumner, Santa Rosa and Portales. Rodriguez has received the survey and will be attending a meeting for the youth alliance in August in Socorro. Rodriguez said he is still learning and is unsure what the topics will be in the August meeting.
“Some of the problems they (youth) are trying to solve are developing a safe neighborhood and receiving a quality education,” Campos said. “Young people give a different perspective. They have a sincere desire to make it better. They haven’t had an outside influence.”
Lt. Governor Diane Denish said the Youth Alliance was created because Richardson had a vision of creating a ‘two-way street’ with youth.
“First, we wanted to learn from them,” Denish said in a March press release. “We want to know their experiences, their struggles and how state government could help.”