Destin Youth Council has recommendation power for the city of Destin

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log
Members of the city of Destin Youth Council are front row from left, Charlie Frankfurt, Annabelle Zielinski, Alexis Ventimiglia, Macy Sexton and Alaina Granier. Back row from left are Grace Fountain, Bianca Rodriguez, Anna Marie Carroll and James Ball.

From learning about the Sunshine Law to how to conduct meetings, the newly appointed Destin Youth Council got a rundown of sorts on what they can and can’t do. 

“You have just as much influence as I do,” Destin Councilman Bobby Wagner told the group gathered at city hall. 

“You have recommendation power,” Wagner said. 

The group of high school students selected to serve on the youth council include James Ball, Anna Marie Carroll, Grace Fountain, Charlie Frankfurt, Alaina Granier, Gianna Jackson, Bianca Rodriguez, Macy Sexton, Parker Sexton, Alexis Ventimiglia and Annabelle Zielinski. 

The Destin Youth Council held their first meeting at Destin City Hall. Each member received a handbook.

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According to the youth council bylaws, they can have up to 14 students who serve a one-year term. So, they still have room for a couple more candidates. 

The council is made up of high school students grades nine through 12 with at least a 2.25 GPA. Members can re-apply each year, as long as they fall into the grade requirement. 

This is the first youth council since the 2020 term as the group was cut short due to COVID-19. 

Grace Fountain was selected as chairman of the Destin Youth Council.

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At their first gathering last week, Destin City Attorney Kyle Bauman went over with the students about the Sunshine Law, what they can say and do outside of their regular scheduled meetings. 

Bauman explained to the group that their meetings will be open to the public and they cannot discuss council business with one another outside of the meetings – that includes texting and emails to one another about council business. 

Wagner went over Robert’s Rule of Order for the meetings. 

“Don’t let it scare you … dream big,” Wagner said. 

Destin City Clerk Rey Bailey went over the code of ethics and bylaws with the students. 

Members of the youth council listened intently as city staff went over some of the do's and don'ts of service.

At their first meeting, nine of the 11 already selected were in attendance with Briar Ramswell to be added by the next meeting, Rey said. 

“This is the most we’ve ever had at a first meeting,” Rey said. 

The council conducted their first order of business at the meeting by selecting a chairman and vice-chairman. 

Annabelle Zielinski nominated herself and then presented her case.  

“I’m someone who has held a position before,” said Zielinski, who attends Fort Walton Beach High. She’s been in leadership for four years at FWB High. She talked of offering some kind of incentive for students to do their work, possibly a gift card. 

Grace Fountain, a senior at Destin High School, also threw her name out as a nomination. 

“I’ve led in various leadership roles and this would be a great opportunity,” Fountain said.  

Fountain was head of the year book staff at Destin High and served as an assistant to Destin High Principal Christine Cruickshank. She also played on the first-ever volleyball team. 

“I see this as a priority,” Fountain said, when asked if her leadership roles at school would interfere with her leading the council. 

Fountain was selected chairman by a vote of 7-2. Zielinski was elected as vice-chairman. 

The youth council will meet once a month and make decisions and recommendations to be brought forth at the regular city council meetings. The next meeting is set for 5:30 p.m., Sept. 22. 

Before the group adjourned, Wagner challenged them. 

“You're as effective as you make it,” Wagner said.