One of the candidates running for a seat on Bethel’s City Council is 22-year-old Mitchell Forbes. The youngest candidate in this election is campaigning with the idea of bringing the voice of Bethel’s youth to the Council.
Though Mitchell Forbes is young, he’s been actively engaged in both the community and politics for some time. While attending Bethel Regional High School, Forbes served on student government as well as on the Alaska State Student Government Board. In his time there, Forbes' proudest achievement - at the age of 16 - was lobbying the Alaska State Legislature to adopt a suicide prevention education bill, known as the Jason Flatt Act, in 2012.
“We wanted to make sure Alaska's teachers were well equipped to help students, and we didn’t want teachers to not reach out to a student for fear of a student dying by suicide,” said Forbes.
The act requires teachers and school staff members to receive suicide prevention education and includes a Good Samaritan Clause to protect teachers who try to help at risk students.
Currently, Forbes is the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation Public Information Officer and a recent Journalism and Communications graduate from Northern Arizona University.
If elected Forbes hopes to serve as a Council representative on the Public Works Commission.
“I would like to see Council really tackle some of the issues with our roads, and see our community better develop the Bethel roads,” said Forbes. “I would like to see us tackle some of the utility issues, like the pipe system in housing.”
Forbes says that he’s also hoping to help promote more collaboration with non-profits and the City of Bethel to address the alcohol issue.
“I would like to see the city expand what treatment services we can offer, because alcohol has been in Bethel for a long time, regardless of the legality of alcohol,” said Forbes.
Rather than work to eliminate alcohol in Bethel, Forbes says that the city’s time would be better spent on helping the community learn to handle it instead.