CONYERS -- City officials want to hear from the youngest members of their constituencies, as 11- and 12-year-olds are invited to share what they would do if they ran the city.
The Georgia Municipal Association is taking entries for its annual "If I Were Mayor, I Would..." essay contest.
The competition is open to all sixth-graders from across the state, including home schooled and private school students.
In 350 words or less, students should explain what they would do if they were the mayor of their city.
All entries, handwritten or typed, must be turned in by the deadline Friday, March 4 to GMA, Attention: Essay Contest, P.O. Box 105377, Atlanta, Ga. 30348.
The contest doubles as a learning opportunity for youngsters and an insightful experience for the city, according to GMA spokesperson Amy Henderson.
Most students learn a lot about state and federal government in school, but little about local government.
"We think that it's important for children to be educated about city government and the role that city government plays in their lives," Henderson said. "That's the level of government that most people are going to have the most interaction with throughout their lives."
She said one of the biggest challenges for cities is retaining the youth in their communities after the youth graduate high school. But cities want those populations to come back and establish businesses and families in the community.
"It's a great opportunity to hear from the youngest members of their community and find out what things are very important to them," Henderson said.
City officials with background in education will serve as judges. The panel of judges will select one winner from each of GMA's 12 districts and those 12 will receive a $250 savings bond and other small prizes.
Rockdale is in District 3, grouped with most of the metro Atlanta counties. Newton County is in District 5 with Jasper, Morgan, Walton, Barrow, Jackson, Oconee, Clarke, Madison, Oglethorpe and Greene.
For the last several years, the winner from District 5 has come from the same middle school in Jefferson County, according to Henderson.
Winners will be notified by the end of March and a public announcement will come during an April luncheon in Atlanta.
GMA received more than 6,000 entries from last year's contest.
For more information, visit www.gmanet.com.