Though a year of COVID-19 considerations brought disruption to the schedules of many Minnesota elementary and middle schools, that didn’t deter approximately 150 Minnesota fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from sharing their ideas for making cities better in the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) 2020 Mayor for a Day Essay Contest.
To better accommodate students practicing distance learning, the League encouraged electronic submission of essays. Some entries were submitted as part of a class assignment, and others by students working on their own. Finalists were judged by League President and Minnetonka Mayor Brad Wiersum and by LMC Executive Director David Unmacht. They chose three winners and three honorable mentions from among the submissions.
This was the assignment for essays writers: Cities of all sizes across the state provide a variety of services and programs that make our lives better, including parks and recreation, street maintenance, water and sewer, libraries, police, fire, and more. But what could be done to make those services even better?
This year’s three winners are from the cities of Lake Crystal, New Brighton, and North Mankato, and their essays are printed here. Three honorable mentions — from the cities of Carver, Chanhassen, and New Prague — were also chosen, and you can read excerpts from their essays here. Winning entries were selected based on creativity and originality.
In their winning essays, students mentioned a variety of mayoral priorities, including libraries, bicycle safety, addressing inequities, appreciation for workers, road construction, and animal adoption. Winners will receive award plaques and a check for $100 from the League, and students recognized for honorable mention will receive award certificates.
This was the eighth year for the League’s Mayor for a Day competition, which is designed to encourage students to learn more about public service and the core services offered by cities in Minnesota. In the past, some essay winners have been featured in their hometown newspapers and have received special recognition in their schools and at city council meetings in their communities.
The League thanks all student writers who participated in the 2020 competition, along with the teachers, parents, friends, and others who encouraged them along the way.
2020 Mayor for a Day Essay Contest Winner
6th grade, Lake Crystal
If I were mayor for a day….
The first thing I would do as mayor would be to host a fundraiser to build another library in my town. Libraries are a great way to check out new books and get excited to learn. My town already has two libraries but we are growing and I think it would be great to have another in a new area. Opening a new library would create more job options for people in my city and a quiet, nice place for kids to do their schoolwork if they aren’t able to do so at home.
My second act of mayor would be to host a bicycle safety meeting at each school. Sometimes I see kids riding bikes in dangerous spots, not looking both ways, and not wearing helmets on their bikes. Some kids might not understand the importance of taking extra precautions while riding their bikes. I could send police officers to each school to inform students on bike safety and give out free helmets for anyone who needs one.
My last act as mayor would be to provide more homework help for kids that need it. We could ask teachers to stay after school to help kids that are falling behind, or we could hire tutors at libraries during certain times of the day to help students with their distance work.
If I were mayor for a day I would do my best to help those in my community. I love my town already but with a few changes it could be even better!
2020 Mayor for a Day Essay Contest Winner
6th grade, North Mankato
When you think of kids being the mayor, your mind probably wanders to the stereotypes that are sometimes portrayed in comic strips or movies. Chocolate milk in the drinking fountains, a new holiday, or silly rules that people have to follow. I’ll admit, some of those sound fun to me, too, but I would focus on bigger problems than what comes out of the drinking fountains.
If I were mayor for a day, I would try to fix small inequalities in our community. I cannot control everyone, or even a small portion of the US, but I believe that my efforts could make a difference. As a leader, I would set a good example and be non judgmental of others no matter what they look like, or who they are. Their race, gender, ethnicity, or beliefs would not matter to me, and I would treat everyone as an equal, because we are.
Also, I would set realistic goals and cooperate with others to achieve them. I would show my community what a wonderful place Minnesota is to live in, and how blessed we are. I would express more gratitude to city service workers, such as librarians, police officers, firefighters, park and rec employees, and more. They work so hard to keep our community beautiful and fun.
If I were mayor for a day, I would do all I could in my power to make sure people around me got the food and shelter they need. I would look for volunteers to donate to the food shelf, and volunteer myself. I would use being mayor as an opportunity to show people that girls can do anything they put their minds to, and there is no superior gender or race.
I would probably do more, but those sound like hard goals, and I only have one day! My main goal would be to set a good example and show everyone that Minnesota is a great place to live. And while I’m at it, I might as well make chocolate milk in the drinking fountains.
2020 Mayor for a Day Essay Contest Winner
5th grade, New Brighton
To promote myself to become mayor I would do many things. I would make advertisements, have speeches and debates and other things too. I would write about what I think is important like animals, health care, and making our city a better place. I like to write, so I could make lists of what I would do if I got elected.
If I Was Mayor
First, if I was mayor, I would want to do many things to make our city a better place. I would take advice from the people in our city. I would want to be a role model for younger people.
Next, City projects are important to form a community. I would check in on projects like road construction. I would make sure everything was going well and sticking to the budget. I would always stick on budget and say no to the projects that are too expensive. I would also talk with businesses and make sure they are doing well, if they are struggling I would do my best to help them.
And, I think health care is very important, especially in these times. I would make sure everyone is safe and wearing masks when out in the public. I would do everything as safe as possible, I would have stuff on zoom like city council meetings and such. If I had to go out in public, I would make sure everyone is wearing masks and doing their best to stay six feet apart.
I like animals (especially dogs) a lot! Every month I would donate money to the animal shelter and try to get the animals adopted. I would encourage people to try meat-free meals a few times a month.
Lastly, I think everyone should get a good education. I would make sure people in school are doing good. I would also make sure that the schools are safe. For homeschoolers, I would make sure they are doing the stuff they need to be doing and getting a good education.
In conclusion, I would do a lot of things as mayor. I would do it all to make a better community. As Conan O’Brien once said, “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.”
6th grade, Carver
Excerpt from Ashlyn’s essay:
I would involve all the residents of my city in helping make decisions to make the city better because they all live here, and they will be affected by any changes. … I believe everyone should have a voice in big decisions.
6th grade, Chanhassen
Excerpt from Bridget’s essay:
There are a lot of great things in my city, but I plan to improve dog parks and add more trash cans at parks. I also think we should add more volleyball courts or stadiums.
6th grade, New Prague
Excerpt from Lucy’s essay:
I would make more affordable houses and apartments. This would help the homeless to find a home that they can afford. I would make the houses and apartments in the fields and where there are empty lots.