There are lots of things citizens can do to make their city’s government even better. For example, they can vote in city elections, run for city council, volunteer at a park or community center, or speak at city council meetings about something they care about. If you were mayor of your city for a day, what would you do to encourage people to get more involved in city government?
That was the question posed to Minnesota fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students who participated in the League of Minnesota Cities’ (LMC) 2015 “Mayor for a Day” essay contest last fall. This was the third year for the essay contest. In last year’s contest, students were asked what they would do to improve a specific city service.
Many of the students who participated picked up entry forms at the League’s “Cities Matter” State Fair booth. Entry forms were also made available online, and mayors from several Minnesota cities encouraged students in their communities to write essays. The City of Crookston, for example, organized its own “Mayor for a Day” competition and encouraged students to submit entries to both the League and the city contest. Some teachers required participation as an assignment, and submitted essays written by an entire class.
Essay writers came up with scores of ideas for engaging city residents, including holding festivals, constructing suggestion boxes, collecting goods for food shelves, holding raffles, organizing parades, and more.
The League received more than 600 essays from students representing nearly all areas of the state. LMC President and Windom City Administrator Steve Nasby and LMC Executive Director David Unmacht judged the finalists and selected three winners and three honorable mentions. Winning entries were chosen based on creativity, originality, and legibility. The winners received a plaque and a check for $100, and their entries are reprinted here. Honorable mentions received a certificate.
A special thanks to all parents, teachers, and others who encouraged students to submit essays.
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