Being the mayor of a city carries with it a lot of responsibilities and can be quite demanding. It can also be rewarding and gratifying. Many of us get elected with a vision for our community. I was green, but had the fire in my stomach to be a voice for the residents in my community. When I was first elected to our city council in 2014, I wasn’t familiar with all the city departments, didn’t have a deep connection with our community partners, or even completely understood the scope of my duties. I would have really benefited from a crash course in local government and how it works. With that said, I am honored to be offering that opportunity to some students in our community. I am bringing back the program, Mayor for the Day. In the past, there was one high school student chosen, but this year I am going to choose two high school students and one middle school student.
I believe it is extremely important to engage our students and youth with local political experiences. Not only do I feel this experience will give the students valuable knowledge of our local government, but I also believe it may plant the seed of becoming a future mayor. I have been honored over the past few years to be teaching and educating our students here in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. I understand giving them the opportunity to learn the process firsthand will be invaluable. Our youth know many issues they experience are addressed at their local government level. Whether it be lack of housing, youth programming, homelessness, littering or community events, these are all topics many of them may face at some point in their young lives.
Students are asked to submit an essay describing why they would be a great mayor. This gives our youth the opportunity to share what they believe needs to be changed or implemented into our community; possibly highlighting and instilling important values into our local policies. These students are our future leaders. As someone in education, it is amazing to see the world through their eyes. I always tell people the world is going to be more interconnected and inclusive when our youth are making the decisions in the future. I believe this experience provides a better understanding of our local government which is imperative to the growth of our community.
I look forward to spending the day with the winners. They will be able to meet with staff and department leaders, speak to the city manager, attend meetings and have lunch with me. I believe introducing our youth to the way our departments work will give them the knowledge and the understanding needed to become future leaders.
If you know any students who would like to apply, please have them send their application to my office at [email protected]. Essays need to be submitted by Sept. 10, 2021 and be no more than one page in length. Winners will be announced on Sept. 17, 2021 and Mayor for the Day will be on Oct. 12, 2021.
Mayor’s Update is a recurring column from Watsonville’s mayor, Jimmy Dutra. His opinions are his own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian. Contact Dutra at [email protected]