What about millennial and Gen Z Wilsonians?

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I attended Monday’s candidate forum at Wilson Community College. There were fewer than five young people present. Having to be an observer, I have seen a huge generational gap among local residents.

During the Q&A, I asked an important question: “What does Wilson offer me as a millennial? As well as the Gen Z population?” Mayor Rose was the first person to respond by suggesting we can have a bar. In all honesty, I found the response to be very offensive. Mayor Rose, with all due respect, a bar is the last thing a young person would need. I have had conversations with people in my age group. We all share the same concerns about life in a small town.

The people I grew up with have moved to larger cities for better opportunities. Some of them often come home during the holidays. There are a number of young people who leave Wilson for good. Many have left the small-town environment due to lack of growth and opportunity. As a result, we often leave our older relatives behind.

We’re looking for ways to help our city become more innovative. How can we bring technology to Wilson? What are ways to help promote STEM and trade in the public schools? What opportunities are there for young entrepreneurs to thrive in Wilson? Are there opportunities for young farmers?

The age range for millennials is 20-35. We have now surpassed the Baby Boomers as the largest voting generation. Generation Z voters were born from 1995-2010. We have all faced stereotypes of being lazy and entitled. To tell you the truth, we are far from that. Believe it or not, there are plenty of millennials who have been active in their communities. You may not see it, but there are people who are finding solutions to the problems.

I cannot stress the importance of voting to young people enough. We hold more voting power in the upcoming election. My only wish is to encourage you to pay attention to the municipal races. We need to step up and hold our local officials accountable. This is the best way to have our voices heard. We need to elect those who have an understanding on the current generation and beyond. It’s clear to me, as a millennial, Bruce Rose is not the candidate for me.

Catherine Leake