Lambeth’s new youth mayor and new member of youth parliament have been announced-and the voting couldn’t have been tighter.
With 10,000 votes cast, this year’s youth elections were the closest ever which meant a re-count of all votes took place a few hours before Lambeth’s Chief Executive and returning officer for the borough, Derrick Anderson, declared the winners.
Lambeth’s new youth mayor, Darren Tenkorang, scooped the top post with 967 votes from young people who live, work and study in the borough. Young people between 11 to 19 voted online and at polling stations in 12 Lambeth schools.
Darren, 15, won a narrowly fought campaign by just 28 votes. The second highest vote saw 16-year-old Sara Zouhir from Lambeth Academy announced as deputy youth mayor for Lambeth.
Darren is a student at Bishop Thomas Grant School in Streatham and lives in Brixton.
“As Lambeth Youth Mayor I hope to destroy the stereotype the youth have. Youth of today are looked upon as rebellious teenagers who wear black hoods and roam the streets at night,” he said.
“I hope to achieve my goal by uniting the community. I hope to break down the barriers between the youth and the police, and most importantly, I would like to unite secondary school students together.”
It was another close call for Lambeth’s next member of youth parliament (MYP). Sixteen-year-old Stephanie Harb beat fellow candidate, 14-year-old Daniel Longe by only 19 votes.
Archbishop Tenison’s School student Daniel is Lambeth’s Deputy MYP and will stand alongside Stephanie to organise events and projects, run campaigns and influence decision-makers on issues that matter most to young people in Lambeth.
“It was a wonderful turn-out and all candidates were of an outstanding calibre,” said Lambeth Mayor, Councillor Christopher Wellbelove, welcoming his young colleagues.
“We were very lucky in our previous winners, and our new representatives look set to be equally worthy and valuable assets for Lambeth,” he commented.
Paul Boskett, Elections Outreach Officer from the UK Youth Parliament, attended the event. He said: “The Lambeth elections, in terms of youth participation, organisation and involvement were one of the best (if not) the best I have witnessed.”
Lambeth is one of only four London authorities, and only ten nationally, to have a directly elected youth mayor. The Lambeth Youth Mayor and their advisory panel will have an annual budget of £25,000 to help make the changes that young people want to see.
To gather support and votes this year, our budding politicians took to an open top bus to visit ten of the borough’s youth clubs and play areas.
Candidates also developed personal manifestos and election videos explaining why they wanted to represent their peers and visited schools to speak directly to hundreds of students about their ideas for improving Lambeth.
The newly elected candidates will take on their posts from April 2010.