Mayor Jim Bulkley had no idea what a room full of third-grade boys and girls would ask when they eagerly raised their hands on Wednesday morning, but the first one may have been his favorite.
“How old are you?” one child said.
“Well,” the mayor replied. “How old do you think I am?”
“59,” the student said.
The mayor looked back and smiled.
“God love ya,” he said, with a laugh. “Fortunately, age has nothing to do with what I’m doing.”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Mayor Jim Bulkley, center, poses for a photo with West Park Elementary third-grade teachers Monica Jasper, left, Danielle Wacha, right, and their students on Wednesday morning inside the Community Room/Council Chamber on the third level of the Columbus Community Building. See an enlarged version of this photo by clicking here.)
Bulkley, City Clerk Janelle Kline and Account Clerk/Records Clerk Linda Nickeson hosted West Park Elementary Third-Grade Teachers Monica Jasper and Danielle Wacha, along with their classes, at the Columbus Community Building, 2500 14th St., for an inside look at local city government.
It started on the third level in the Community Room/City Council Chamber with a one-hour discussion with Mayor Bulkley, who simplified the basics of city government and how it pertains to kids’ everyday lives.
Bulkley explained how the City’s water distribution system makes simple tasks like brushing your teeth and taking a shower possible before highlighting police, fire, library, streets, parks and recreation, as well as snow removal, among other things. He also mentioned how any adult and teen can get involved with their local city government by running for office, seeking appointment to various committees and boards; applying for job openings and more.
“It was fun. It’s always enjoyable getting in front of a group of kids. You chuckle at some of the questions that get asked because most of them are silly questions a third grader might want to know and don’t relate to city government,” Bulkley said. “But then you tell the story of what we do and why it relates to them and it brings out some better questions.”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley chats with West Park Elementary School students. See an enlarged version of this photo by clicking here.)
Kids appeared quite engaged with the mayor, asking all sorts of questions throughout the hour related to the City and local government in general. The mayor also managed to sneak in a few light-hearted jokes along the way that kept the students smiling, particularly when one student asked what the TVs were used for in the building.
“Have you ever seen me dancing on TikTok?” the mayor asked while doing a little jive.
“No,” several students said at once.
“Because I don’t actually dance on TikTok,” he said, with a laugh that generated plenty more in return, before noting how the TVs could be used during various meetings and reminding everyone that Columbus City Council meetings are live-streamed on the City’s YouTube channel.
Jasper said she was appreciative of the mayor for taking the time to talk with the students, who are learning about local government in class.
“It’s really wonderful he is willing to talk with our kids to give them a good idea of how local government is set up and how things work,” Jasper said. “These buildings like this just don’t come from nothing.”
After the talk and a photo with the mayor where the City Council meets, Kline and Nickeson took the students and teachers on an extensive tour of City Hall. They popped by the mayor’s office and chatted with numerous City staff members along the way.
The mayor called the whole experience rewarding.
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley answers questions during a visit with West Elementary School third-grade classes on Wednesday in the Columbus Community Building. See an enlarged version of this photo by clicking here.)
“It’s important to be out in the public,” he said. “Every one of those students has a parent that is a taxpayer we represent, and I tried to stress that whatever we do is for their parents and them.”
Bulkley said he appreciated breaking down city government for kids and seeing their interest in it. He was also admittedly flattered that the guesses about his age were younger than he expected.
“That was wonderful,” Bulkley said, laughing. “They could stay in the room all day if they wanted to.”
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