10-year-old gets taste of political life as mayor for a day

June 02, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

New Windsor's mayors keep getting younger and younger.

With a rap of the gavel and a voice much softer than the usual head of state, 10-year-old Russell Franks briefly reigned over the New Windsor Town Council meeting last night as the winner of the town's "Mayor for a Day" essay contest.

The New Windsor Middle School fifth-grader's essay was chosen from 35 entries by Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr., who created the contest as a belated celebration of municipal government week in April.

"Our teacher . . . told us to write an essay about what we we do if we were mayor for the day," Russell said before the meeting. "Some things, for ideas, she wrote on the board, and other things I just though about myself."

Russell sat at the council table with his arms folded and his feet crossing and uncrossing beneath it as Junior Girl Scout Troop 1172 from Winfield performed a flag ceremony to open the meeting.

After Mayor Gullo's statement of the town's agenda policy, Russell read his essay.

Some of the tasks he said he would undertake if he were mayor for a day included having a truck collect recycleables, increasing community watch patrols and purchasing more equipment for the local fire department.

"I thought it would be interesting for a fifth-grader to find out about what a mayor does and the issues facing a municipal government," said Mayor Gullo.

Russell's mother Barbara and sister Angela, 12, grinned from their seats in the gallery. Russell Franks Sr. sat on a table videotaping the event.

"A lot of what he wrote he heard from us," said Mr. Franks said before the meeting.

"It's nice to see some of it sunk in," Mrs. Franks added.

"After reading the essays, I got a very interesting perspective of what today's students and tomorrow's leaders perceived as problems facing society as well as the town of New Windsor."

Russell said his knowledge of Mayor Gullo's job is limited, but he did get a dose of the prestige that comes with being a government official.

"Kids were calling me 'Mr. Mayor' all day," said Russell.

Officials at his school announced Russell as the essay contest winner Tuesday morning.

Russell said he knew that the mayor's job involves "running the town." and he commented that, while he did not know how much the mayor is paid, it is "not enough."

Although he was excited about his temporary stint as a mayor, Russell said he has no political ambitions. He said he would rather do "something in sports."

Aside from being the honorary officiator of this month's council meeting, Russell will ride in the mayor's convertible and will help Mayor Gullo throw candy to the town's children during the fireman's parade Wednesday.

Angela Franks already has put in an order for all bubble gum, Russell said. He just wants to know if he can keep some for himself.

Russell's essay explained in detail what he would do if he were mayor of New Windsor for a day. It said:

If I were mayor for a day, I would put out a patrol fore people that do "drugs" so I can report them. Then I would send for a rececycoling truck. Then I would donate money to the fire deportment for equitment. Then if anybody needs medicaine, I would take it to them. Then if there were any construction or road work being done, I would inspect it. Then I would have a community center built. Then order some equitment for the park and make sure it's put in. Then get more community sports and make everybody pick up their trash so it will be clean!

Russell said he thinks he can do all this in one day.

He appeared to be almost as ambitious as Mayor Gullo.

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