Seventh-grade class becomes Mayor Anderson’s advisors for a day
Seventh-graders at Lexington Trails Middle School had some suggestions last Thursday for Mayor Dave Anderson.
The students had just completed essays for a contest sponsored by the League of Kansas Municipalities asking them to finish the thought, "If I were mayor, I would..."
Ideas ranged from practical to outrageous with top concerns and suggestions being the lack of a local grocery store, another city festival, a recycling program, an indoor swimming pool, more restaurants and a clean city.
Before some of the students read their essays voluntarily, Anderson talked a little about his job duties as mayor.
"My responsibility is to provide leadership to the governing body, the other five council members, and also provide leadership to the city staff," he said.
Anderson also told the students he made $700 a month and asked them if they thought it was a lot of money.
"Yes," they all responded, earning a chuckle from Anderson in return.
After explaining how the taxes their parents pay help fund the city, Anderson asked students how many students would register to vote when they turned 18. Not all the youngsters raised their hands.
"It's important to vote because that's how elected officials like myself or a school board member or a city council member hears you," he said.
Seventh-grade teacher Nikki Leisten said several of the students wanted to put in a new grocery store if they were mayor and asked Anderson what he thought.
"What do you think the city can do?" Anderson asked the students.
Anderson explained that the city couldn't purchase a grocery store and run it because the United States is a capitalist society. However, he said the city is working to attract a new store to the area.
One student mentioned having more festivals like De Soto Days would be fun, and it would give families in the city something to do.
Leisten said some of the students mentioned a winter festival with ice sculpting and snowball fights.
"We could call it De Snowto Days," one student shouted.
Anderson was keen on the idea and asked the students to send an e-mail with further details on what they would like De Snowto Days to be.
Later in the visit, Kimberli Simpson was among the seventh-graders to read her essay aloud. She would like to have a city cooking competition and said she would allow only green schools with recycled carpet to be built.
Morgan Kieffaber's essay advocated the addition of a skate park in De Soto.
"Kids might like to have one," she said. "There is nowhere here to skate."
As the children filed out of the room at the end of the visit, Anderson said he got a lot out of his meeting with the children.
"We negotiated with the trash companies to do recycling, but it costs money and it's either everyone participates or no one does," Anderson said.
So what was Anderson's favorite suggestion from the students?
"The festival for sure," he said. "Their pride in De Soto is something else."