Your average 11-year-old might be stumped if suddenly asked to imagine being the mayor of a city.
For Bryce Revnew and Andrew Derecho, it was old hat.
Both love playing SimCity, in which players have to regulate development, keep budgets in check and try to keep residents happy. Just like real mayors — you know, in theory.
Bryce and Andrew, who both go to Lamping Elementary, were among five fifth-graders who won a city-sponsored essay contest recently. The theme: “If I Were Mayor of Henderson …”
The winning ideas were a mix of the mildly to insanely ambitious (solar power plants, a subway system); the idealistic (combat bullying, health clinics for homeless people); and the more traditional (more libraries, bigger parks).
“My ideas focus on increasing income and decreasing annoyance,” Bryce said.
And one of the major things that annoys him is Eastern Avenue, the route he rides to school. It’s busy and traffic clogged, he said, and he has spent too much of his young life waiting at traffic lights there.
His solution: “add subways under streets to resolve traffic on busy roads such as Eastern Avenue.”
A politician’s speechwriter might call it bold. A budget director would laugh softly. But if you had a spare $1 billion or so, no doubt it would be nice.
Anya Siegel, 11, said many of her ideas came from her love of sports and bicycling. Her mom rides her bike on the road a lot, so Anya’s platform includes wider bike lanes.
“Our parks would be larger and have added activities such as more sports fields, walking tracks and skate parks,” wrote Anya, who goes to McDoniel Elementary. “This would give people healthy activities to do and keep kids out of trouble.”
Last month, the winners got to go to City Hall, have pizza and sit in the mayor’s chair. Andy Hafen, the real mayor of Henderson, later called the contest “one of my favorite things” he does as mayor.
All the essays were winners, but they were quite different. So, in addition to the real awards, the Review-Journal presents these unofficial honors.
Most ambitious: Bryce, hands down. Remember the subway?
Most compassionate: Shaun Mathew of Glen Taylor Elementary School proposed building apartments for homeless people, writing, “It should be a little less money so they can afford it.” He also wants to employ homeless people at jobs such as cleaning up parks so they have some money. Finally, he would like to build health clinics for people who can’t afford checkups. It’s unclear whether this sort of empathy for the less fortunate would get him anywhere in politics.
Most idealistic: Dorothy Pirosch of Walker International School wants to encourage recycling. “We have to keep Earth clean!” She also proposed finding jobs for “citizens in need” and helping kids by making a stronger anti-bullying law.
Most ready for prime time: Andrew promised to “lower taxes and increase government funding,” always a safe route to election. How to pay for it? Just like a real politician, he cited unspecified “other sources.” This kid’s a natural.
So will any of them run for mayor for real one day? Too early to say. Bryce is into science and space, and Anya would like to be a doctor or physical therapist and help people recover from injuries.
“I’m not sure, really,” Andrew said. “I’m a bit too young for that.”