CARMEL College student Jess Halliday has been elected as the new Youth MP for Darlington.
The 16-year-old was named as the borough's representative in the UK Youth Parliament by Mayor Tom Nutt in a ceremony held at Darlington Council Chamber tonight (Monday).
Ms Halliday said she had always been intrigued by politics and was excited to get stuck into her new role.
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“Politics is always something that has really interested me. If there is something you really believe in, it is important that you get involved in it.”
She said that mental health, getting young people into jobs and the high cost of public transport were the three issues she was most passionate about.
“Being Youth MP is a great way to raise understanding of mental health issues,” she said.
“Work experience is another important issue. I want to make sure that all youth have the opportunity to find it.
“And public transport is really expensive for 16 to 18 year olds who don’t really have a lot of money to spend.”
Almost 4,000 votes were cast in the election, representing about 40 per cent of Darlington youth aged 11 to 18.
Ms Halliday was the winner with 794 votes, followed closely by fellow Carmel College student Liam White on 779.
Mr White, 16, was elected as Ms Halliday’s deputy.
He said: “I wasn’t expecting to receive so many votes.
“In my role I’ll support Jess and I’ll be expected to represent the views of the young people in Darlington as well.”
Mayor Tom Nutt said he was sure Darlington would be well represented by the two.
He said: “We should be really proud of these young people.
“I think we may have some MPs of the future here.”
Outgoing Youth MP Danny Brown, 16, offered some advice to Ms Halliday and Mr White based on his time in the role.
He said: “This is the start of a very long journey. The next two years will be some of the best in your life.
“Talk to everyone and never take no for an answer.”