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Sandy Journal

Three Students Win ‘Mayor for a Day’ Contest

Aug 29, 2017 04:18PM ● By Jana Klopsch

JJ Sullivan was one of three winners selected to be "Mayor for a Day." (Mike Applegarth/Sandy City)

By Jim DeGooyer | j.degooyer@mycityjournals.com

What would you do if you were the mayor of Sandy?

That question was given to students in Sandy earlier this year. The response was surprising. 

The mayor’s office invited all students in Sandy-area schools to write an essay describing the most important and challenging issues facing the city, and how they would address the topics. A total of 42 students accepted the challenge, and the opportunity to be “Mayor for a Day.” One winning entry was selected from each school category: elementary, middle school and high school.

“It was refreshing to hear the excitement our youth have about our city, elected service and the difference they want to make in the world,” said Mayor Tom Dolan. “These are our future leaders and the ‘Mayor for a Day’ program proved we are going to be in good hands.”

City officials, including Dolan, recognized the three winners — Abigail Simmons, JJ Sullivan and Elysa Walker — as “Mayors for a Day” during the city council meeting on Aug. 8. The students then read their winning essays to the city council and the large audience in attendance. 

Simmons, Sullivan and Walker will now each schedule a day to accompany Dolan in his official duties. 

“Now comes the fun part of creating a special opportunity for each winner so they can experience what it’s truly like to run a city,” said Nicole Martin, deputy mayor. “These shadow days are an opportunity for the mayor to do what he loves best: have one-on-one time talking with those he serves and encouraging future leaders.”

Abigail Simmons

Abigail Simmons, 14, attends Jordan High School. The title of her essay was “Sandy Needs All-Ability Parks.” 

“Our local parks are not inclusive enough of people with disabilities,” said Simmons. “On my day as mayor, I would love to plan the all-ability parks I spoke of in my essay. I would also like to see the kinds of things Mayor Dolan does on a daily basis.”

Simmons entered the contest specifically because she’s interested in politics. 

JJ Sullivan 

JJ Sullivan, 12, attends Indian Hills Middle School. The title of his entry was “I Heart My City.”

“I love my city because it is filled with the most patriotic, hard-working and giving people in America,” said Sullivan. 

“I do recognize though that Sandy faces challenges,” he told the city council. 

In January 2016, Sullivan was struck by a drunk driver in Sandy. He was hospitalized at Primary Children’s Hospital with a lacerated spleen and required several months to recover. 

In his essay, he asked, “How could the problem of drunk driving be solved in our community?  I think the best way is for everyone to be educated from an early age that drinking and driving don’t mix,” he explained. 

“I am very excited to be with the mayor for the day. I want to know how you run a city, what choices does he (Dolan) have to make every day?”

Elysa Walker 

Elysa Walker, who turned 10 in August, attends Granite Elementary. The title of her essay was “If I Were Mayor.”

“My mom encouraged me to submit an essay. She thought it would help with my writing skills during summer break,” said Walker.

In her essay, Walker addressed issues such as bullying and graffiti in Sandy. 

“On my day as mayor, I hope to attend the butterfly release at Sego Lily Gardens or an event at Sandy Amphitheater. Or, perhaps a ribbon-cutting event at a new restaurant or business, visit a fire department or police station,” said Walker. 

City council members and Dolan personally reviewed each of the 42 entries. They were so impressed with the quality of writing and breadth of ideas that they issued a $25 prize to each entrant. The three winners received $125 each.  

“We were pleasantly surprised in the high level of participation in this program and are now planning on doing it every year,” said Martin.