High school student gives voice to Carmel youth as part of mayor’s transition team


By Samantha Kupiainen

When Mayor Sue Finkam started assembling her transition team in late 2023, she wanted to revamp the Carmel Mayor’s Youth Council, a group that provides leadership and service opportunities for young residents.

Finkam wanted someone to oversee that transition that knew firsthand what was happening in the schools and what issues matter among local youth. So, she reached out to Carmel High School senior Liam Hansen.

Hansen previously assisted Finkam’s mayoral campaign, mostly working on the back end with data management and similar tasks. When Finkam approached him to be part of her transition team as a member, not an intern, he immediately accepted the invitation. In mid-November 2023, he became the head of CMYC for the mayoral transition team.

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Liam Hansen poses with then Mayor-elect Sue Finkam after she won the election. (Photo courtesy of Liam Hansen)

“Liam’s commitment to my campaign and to the City of Carmel is unparalleled,” Finkam said. “I believe that the involvement of young and intelligent voices like his is crucial to achieving success in the political process. We consider ourselves lucky to have him as a member of our team and we are confident that he is destined for greatness.”

In his role, Hansen oversees the program revamp and helps plan new activities related to enhancing civic participation among Carmel high schoolers. Planning is in the early stages, but Hansen said he wants a “new chapter of the mayor’s youth council.”

“I’m trying to help see through this transition and see how we can enhance the youth council and specifically make it more involved in city government, which it’s struggled with in past years,” Hansen said. “We’re hoping to get more of a youth perspective out of it.”

The team is focusing on the structure of the council and how it operates. One priority already identified is ensuring the council increases its advisory role.

“I think the youth is often the generation that talks the most about how clearly they want change and challenging the status quo,” Hansen said. “They are very vocal about that, but it’s not often that they actually apply that into change at the policy level or advocating for it, especially locally. I think that this youth council is a unique opportunity to make sure that we’re showing them how important it is to be involved at the local level, and how applicable it is to their lives.”

Another aspect that Hansen hopes to add to the council is the creating and releasing reports about issues it sees in the community pertaining to youth. The council would then recommend how to address it at a local level with assistance from the city council or mayor’s office.