TODAY (Wednesday) could prove to be a pivotal day in the young life of 17 year-old Brechiner, Andrew Laurie. Andrew is one of three candidates standing for the Scottish Youth Parliament in the newly constructed North Angus and Mearns constituency.
In Angus North & Mearns the other candidates are Leigh Douglas, Forfar and Ronan Valentine, Montrose. As the Angus North seat is shared with Aberdeenshire Council area, only one candidate will be elected from the Angus area and the other from Aberdeenshire area.
The ballot boxes and voting will take place in all Angus secondary schools, all Angus Council community learning and development bases (including Damacre Centre) and in Angus College. Voting is open to all 12 – 25 year olds and young people will be given the chance to vote by the alternative vote system. The count will take place on Thursday, March 24, with the announcement of results at 6pm in the No1 for Youth base in Forfar.
At a time when many young people, and some that are not so young are turned off by politics and politicians, Andrew has very clearly defined principles, which he hopes will stand him in good stead in today’s election.
He said: “I had heard about the work of the Scottish Youth Parliament and one of my friends is actually involved already. He was a member and when the time came to put your name forward, he contacted me and told me to get in touch.
“I have always in politics and trying to make a difference to people’s every day lives. So I thought I am going to go for this.
“I am a volunteer at the Attic Youth Club, which obviously brings me into direct contact with younger people. I like to help wherever I can in my local community and I think I am driven by the hope that I can help all young people improve their lives.
“I do have strongly held feelings over various political ideologies, but I can assure anyone who votes for me that I will keep them away from this. This isn’t about political parties. Its not about who is right and who is wrong, its about making a difference and putting things to one side to try and help the people of Brechin and even Scotland improve their lots.
“My biggest ambition is to help, to help people and to do whatever I can to improve things for them.
“As for issues that are important to people my age. Public safety is one that I feel is important to local people. Its also an area the Attic helps with in providing a forum for young people to use on a nightly basis. Where the Attic is missed is a Saturday, when young people don’t have it to use and they still want to go out and meet their friends. They want to feel safe walking home on a Saturday. I want to make sure younger people or children feel safe whatever environment they are in, walking home on a Saturday night, at school or in the home.
“They should also be fairly represented and that is what this gives us an opportunity to do. You only have to look seven miles down the road to Montrose, they don’t have a place like the Attic or a youth club and the kids just have to walk the streets. That ends up with them being judged by people, simply because they want to hang out with their friends. Hopefully I can help change people’s attitudes, even though youngsters are out on the streets, they may just be out with their friends, with nowhere else to go.
“Regardless of where people come from within the constituency I want people to know I can do this job and they will have a voice, regardless of where they come from.
“I obviously would like to win and I am up against two candidates who are both capable of doing good jobs as well. I would like to think people will pick who is best for the job, regardless of where they come from.
“My priority is to listen to young people. I don’t want to tell them this is what I think, I what to hear from them about what they feel and think is important. This is what the people of Angus want should be my remit. Not what Andrew Laurie wants. I hope to get the opportunity to represent the people of North Angus and Mearns to the best of my ability.”
Following the election, the successful candidates will attend induction training, which will be provided by the Scottish Youth Parliament, before they attend their first sitting of the parliament in June. The Angus candidates are supported during their term as members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) by staff at No1 for Youth. If you have any questions or queries or want to raise a youth issue with them then please contact No1 For Youth on 01307 468859.