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Teen Face: A part of Democracy at work in Santa Rosa

  • Montgomery High sophomore Taylor Wang is the teen representative on the Santa Rosa City Council. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

Taylor Wang's friends can understand why she likes tennis and badminton.

They even get why she is driven to take every advanced class open to a Montgomery High sophomore, and why she pushes herself to become an accomplished pianist.

But what they can't understand is why she would spend her Tuesday evenings hanging out with the Santa Rosa City Council.

"My friends are like, 'The City Council? That sounds so boring,' " Taylor said.

But serving as the teen representative on the City Council for the past year has been anything but boring for Wang. The first-generation Chinese-American finds it fascinating to witness firsthand the way the Democratic process plays out on the local stage.

"There's never been a dull moment," Taylor said. "There's always something different happening."

She has served on the council during some tense times. She's had a front-row seat during debates over the city's response to the Andy Lopez shooting and an ongoing investigation into whether a councilman created a hostile work environment for employees.

She's also sat through far less dramatic fare, including proclamations for local community groups, an endless stream of bureaucratic minutiae and public comments from ranging from the inspiring to the inane.

Debates on environmental policies, such as the Climate Action Plan and the SMART train, have been of keen interest to her because she knows young people will be particularly impacted by changes to the environment.

And while the council members themselves may have their differences, one thing they have in common is the respect and kindness with which they have treated her, Taylor said.

"They definitely treat me almost like a daughter," she said.

Taylor is the daughter of Sean and Shirley Wang, who were an English teacher and accountant respectively before they immigrated from Yantai, a city on the northeastern coast, to the United State about 20 years ago. The family operated a Chinese restaurant in Cotati for several years, closing it after Sean Wang died eight years ago. Shirley Wang is a freelance journalist.

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