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Future mayor of Worthington? Fifth-grader Grace McGaughey wins ‘Mayor for a Day’ essay contest

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Grace McGaughey poses for a photo outside Worthington’s City Hall. Robin Baumgarn/Daily Globe2 / 3
Robin Baumgarn/Daily Globe3 / 3

WORTHINGTON — Have you ever thought about how you’d run the city if you had the option? If you were mayor for one day, what would you do? 

Worthington Middle School student Grace McGaughey’s answer to those questions have garnered her a win in a statewide essay contest sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities. McGaughey was tasked with explaining what she would do as “Mayor for a Day.”

McGaughey learned about the contest at school from her teacher, Heather Flynn. As part of the process, McGaughey met with Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle to interview him on what exactly a mayor does.

“I asked him a couple of questions like ‘What do you do (as a) mayor?’ and ‘Is (being a) mayor hard?’” McGaughey explained.

After meeting with Kuhle in late September, McGaughey was invited to and recognized at the October meeting of the Worthington City Council, where she saw government in action.

McGaughey outlined a three-point plan in her essay to get people more involved with city government if she were to be mayor of Worthington. One of her first acts as mayor would be to create a Worthington City Council Facebook page.

McGaughey said she thinks a Facebook page would be an easy way to inform citizens of upcoming council meeting agendas. If they were unable to attend a meeting, video of the meeting could be posted on the page as well.

McGaughey noted that while Facebook is an impersonal means of communication, it would get information out to people faster. In addition to using Facebook, McGaughey would also start a blog to share information with the public.

“If I were mayor for a day, I would blog different ideas for the city and start a city council Facebook page,” she wrote in her essay. “I would use a blog for different topics like how to save the mall and why it’s important to vote.”

Most importantly to McGaughey, she would encourage meeting face to face with members of Worthington’s diverse community to get new perspectives and new ideas.

“We have to let other people feel included,” she explained. “We have to have them encouraged and not have them feel left out. So, I was thinking face to face would help them come join activities.”

McGaughey said she has plans to continue her writing by entering future essay contests but likely would not try the Mayor for a Day contest in her sixth-grade year. However, she enjoyed the experience and would encourage other students to enter the competition next year.

As one of the three winners of the contest — approximately 600 entries were submitted — McGaughey will receive a plaque and $100 from the League of Minnesota Cities. She will have her essay printed in the January/February 2016 edition of Minnesota Cities magazine.

Robin Baumgarn

Robin Baumgarn is a new reporter for the Daily Globe covering the Education and Northwest Iowa beats. Prior to coming to the Globe, she worked for the Ocheyedan Press-Melvin News, a weekly Iowa paper for three years. She is a 2012 graduate of Iowa Lakes Community College and lives in Northwest Iowa with her husband Ryan and three pets, Fidget, Missy and Samwise.

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