Surprise Youth Council Induction Ceremony

I was thrilled to be a part of the Surprise Youth Council Induction Ceremony on January 15! I had the opportunity to help choose the 25 Surprise youth who will sit on this council and help guide decisions for our city. Check out the full article on the event below:

New Surprise Youth Council gets sworn in

The Surprise Youth Council (SYC) was brought to life Jan. 15 when 25 Surprise youth were sworn into the new leadership group, which will help guide decisions affecting the city’s young people.

The swearing-in ceremony followed a reception in City Hall where the 6-11 graders heard from Mayor Sharon Wolcott and Vice Mayor John Williams, who both stressed the importance of this new council.

“We want our young residents to enjoy living here not only while they’re growing up, but also in the future as working adults,” says Mayor Wolcott. “Thus, it’s vital that we provide our youth with an active voice in helping shape Surprise for the benefit of future generations. This new group will provide them with that opportunity.”

SYC leadership positions will be modeled after City Council, with a youth mayor, vice mayor and committee chairs. Officers will take turns holding a non-voting seat at the Dias during City Council meetings.

After City Council approved the formation of SYC in October, the city began outreach to students at local schools and those interested submitted a video application.

“The applications revealed that our youth want to be engaged, want to make a difference, and they see real opportunities to impact our community—from arts to drug prevention to youth engagement to transportation,” says Vice Mayor John Williams, who helped lead the formation of the council. “They want to be part of the decisions; they want a shared role in building our community now and in the future. These bright young minds want that responsibility; we need to give it to them, we need to listen to them! It will be exciting to see how they help shape Surprise.”

The new SYC representatives include:

6th Grade

Makenna Breading-Goodrich, Canyon Ridge
Taylor Gage, Western Peaks
Macy Stewart, Imagine Prep

7th Grade

Jonah Kaplan, Calibre Academy
Sarina Ramirez, Canyon Ridge
Selah Wallace, Imagine Prep

8th Grade

Lucas Cons, Rancho Gabriela
Isabella de Vlieger, Paradise Honors
Jada Henderson, Arizona Charter Academy
Quade Miller-Edwards, Sunset Hills
Bailey Rice, Cimarron Springs

9th Grade

Mikayla Barrera, Arizona Charter Academy
Anthony Canelli, Willow Canyon
Ariel Hatton, Paradise Honors
Kyla Hudson, Shadow Ridge
Mylan Johnson, Paradise Honors

10th Grade

Valeria Ortiz, Paradise Honors
Riley Pollard, Willow Canyon
Megan Ruff, Paradise Honors
Samantha Salazar, Paradise Honors

11th Grade

Eunice Barrameda, Shadow Ridge
Chaunci Hood, Dysart
Grace McDonald, Shadow Ridge
Nithya Satiyaselan, Willow Canyon.
Kyle Shahenian, Dysart

For more information about SYC, please contact Surprise Youth Services Administrator Paul Bernardo at or 623.222.1029.

John Williams being sworn in as Vice Mayor

The Surprise City Council appointed District 3 Councilmember John Williams as Vice Mayor at their regular meeting Tuesday night.

Williams has served District 3 since 2008 and previously served as Vice Mayor in 2012. As a teacher, parent and husband, John brings a community perspective to his commitment to serve as a voice for all residents.

John is a certified teacher and for the last several years has been building the Peoria Unified School District’s Career and Technical Education Sports Medicine program.

A graduate of Hofstra University in New York, John also holds a Masters in Health Science from Towson University in Maryland.

John and Melissa have three children, Connor, Ashlyn, and Matthew.

Per city code, City Council must select a new Vice Mayor to serve on an annual basis no later than January 30, and the Vice Mayor acts for the Mayor in the event of absence.