Monroe Township’s Cody Miller says millennials can impact government at the local level
Close your eyes and think of a politician. What does that person look like? More than likely, the public servant you were thinking of is over the age of 40. Cody Miller, a 27-year-old councilman in Monroe Township, believes that needs to change.
“The number of federal government employees under the age of 30 is now at around 7 percent,” he said. “This is the lowest that it has been in nearly a decade. Millennials just aren’t looking at government as a sector of career interest anymore, which should sound an alarm for all of us in government because we will see baby boomers leaving the workforce in droves over the next few years and will have no one to fill those jobs.”
Miller got involved with his local government when he was 18 as a volunteer in his local Democratic Party. From there, he sent in his resume for the parks and recreation committee and municipal alliance. For those looking to make an impact by becoming involved in government, Miller concludes that local government is the best way to accomplish that.
“You can make the biggest impact at a local level because it’s boots on the ground. You know these people — they’re your friends, they’re your family, they’re your neighbors. For anyone who’s interested in starting in politics, the best way to get involved is locally.”
He added there are many avenues to make a change and get involved; whether it is in the parks and recreation department, the municipal alliance, or just volunteering on the local Democratic or Republican committee, there are options out there.
Miller notes one of the main reasons millennials are discouraged from getting into the public sector is the politics on a national scale.
“You see it on the national scale, anyone in public office is painted as a bad person or they don’t do things for the right reasons,” he said. “You see all the controversies — what young person honestly sits there and says ‘hey, I want to go into a life of public service.’ That’s my biggest concern now.”
The simple solution in front of millennials is to get involved at the local level, earn their stripes and prove their worth through innovative problem-solving and transformative thought. Miller recalled some of the papers he and his colleagues wrote in graduate school at Rutgers University.
“Technology can cut down on the time that employees respond to issues and also cut down on work required of the municipality,” he said.
He used a phone application called “See it, click it, fix it” as an example. It’s a software that allows residents to report a problem on their phone that sends a corresponding message to whatever department can fix it.
“Government in general is going to have to transform,” Miller added. “Our goal should be to provide the most cost-effective service as possible. You’re going to need a lot of young people that have the vision to see how we can cut down on time, processes and costs.”
Young people have the ability to streamline government and bring it into the 21st century. He stressed the importance that millennials can have an impact on their local communities.
“Government is stagnant because there aren’t a lot of new ideas being presented,” he said. “The more young people involved in the process, the more ideas are presented, the more that can be done. That’s why it’s so important to get them involved.”
Everything starts at the local level. This can be as simple as offering courses on local government, teaching the youth more about civics and the “inner workings” of government. By doing so, it would show the youth that there is more to government than what is seen on TV. There is a difference to be made, and the young people have a golden opportunity in front of them. As Miller said, “You have to serve in a local community to see the impact you can really make.”