Taking over Lacombe
Grade 6 students from across Lacombe and Lacombe County participate in a mock council meeting with City of Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie and Chief Administrative Officer Dion Pollard last Wednesday. The students debated harsher sentencing for litterbugs in the city, and the need for a full-time fire department. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
At least for an afternoon, Lacombe didn’t just have the leadership of one mayor, but ten.
City of Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie was joined by nine Grade 6 students from across the city for the annual “Mayor for a Day” program, which he says is something he anticipates every year.
“Mayor for a day is a great day. It’s always my scariest meeting of the year - nine Grade 6 students with no filters,” he said. “But it’s amazing to see what kids know.”
Students were required to submit essays for the chance to become Mayor for a Day. The essays were passed along to Christie, who then selected the winners.
Following a meet and greet with Christie and Chief Administrative Officer Dion Pollard, the students were given lunch and a tour of the municipal offices.
From there, they learned how council meetings work and a few protocols in terms of how to properly address each other before delving into a mock council meeting of their own, where they debated a number of topics from littering, to the five-way stop and bringing in a full time fire department.
While the experience focused on the students learning from the mayor himself, Christie said he took a lot away from the students.
“They came up with an idea I haven’t seen a traffic engineer come up with yet, and that is signalization at the five-way stop. My in-the-box way of thinking is you can’t put lights up when it’s not across an intersection...they were very innovative,” he said.
He added the students helped remind him to stay true to his convictions and the people he represents, as well.
“These kids are truly here to make Lacombe better and that’s what we’re here for as well. Sometimes we get sidetracked and as politicians let our own opinions come in,” he said. “These students come in and they know their thoughts have to be set aside.”
Quinton Nogue, Cassandra Williams and Mia Cunningham were among the students chosen to participate.
Nogue said the mock meeting and making decisions on agenda items was his favourite part of the afternoon, but it surprised him how long the process took, and how much thought and debate went into each decision. Cunningham and Williams, meanwhile said the tour of the municipal yards were their favourite part.
“It was actually really fun,” Williams said. “I thought we’d just be talking about mayor stuff and government type places, but we actually got to do a real type of meeting. It was really fun.
“I think everyone should have a chance to go to Mayor for a Day because it’s awesome.”
Christie said its neat to see students become involved in the political process.
“It’s refreshing to see young people actually involved, engaged and interested in how the city is run,” he said. “To see kids excited about that kind of thing and how we deliver services is really exciting.
“In 20 years, we can sit in the coffee shops and be quite comfortable with the running and operation of our city.”