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Second graders put Thomson mayor on the hot seat

Last winter, Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry had the opportunity to address sixth graders at Thomson Middle School and answer their questions. Last Friday, he was able to visit with even younger constituents at Thomson Elementary School.

Second grade teacher Saundra Maxwell said the second graders had been studying American government in social studies, and she invited Mayor Usry to come talk to all the second graders. In preparation of his arrival, the students each wrote out a question to ask him.

"I was impressed with their questions," Mayor Usry said in an interview later that afternoon.

And that is the sentiment the mayor shared with Zayla Brantley when she asked him what was the favorite part of his job.

"He told me he likes to meet people, and I got to hug him," the second grader said.

In fact, the mayor got to hug or shake hands with each of the students as they exited the school's cafeteria at the end of his visit. Several of the students, who weren't able to ask their questions during the assembly, took the opportunity to ask him their questions at the door. And the mayor answered each one, including Tania Bonner's about how much tax dollars goes to children.

"It's our part as public servants to make sure the kids know what goes on in our government," Mayor Usry said. "Really and truly, it's a joy to share with young people."

Although he appeared to be having a good time and was straightforward yet gentle, there were some answers that simply could not be sugar-coated. Damien Cantrell asked the Mayor why Thomson is able to have an animal shelter, but no dog catcher. After the Mayor explained the limited budget, and touted the good things about the shelter, Kurtavis McGahee asked what happens to the dogs that people don't adopt.

"I learned that they put down the dogs, and that's kind of sad," Kurtavis said after the assembly.

Ms. Maxwell said plans have been made for the students to collect supplies for the local animal shelter, learn more about the services offered and take a tour later in the year.

But Friday's mayoral visit already gave Denkuan Lucas more things to think about. He wondered what it took to be mayor.

"Maybe I'd like to be mayor," Denkuan said. "And I want to be a firefighter, too."

Web posted on Thursday, September 18, 2008

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