Editor’s note: Marblehead Village School sixth-grade student Kate Hertz was the first-place winner of the annual Massachusetts Municipal Association statewide essay contest, topping more than 2,300 students from 17 communities. Essays were judged on creativity, clarity, proper use of grammar and understanding of local government. Kate’s essay focused on an idea to create a Town Meeting and voting website, which would allow for greater participation in the voting process.
As the winner, Kate was a special guest at the annual MMA conference in Boston on Jan. 25. With more than 400 government officials in attendance, Kate read her essay and was then presented with her award, receiving the only standing ovation of the evening.
Entrants in the contest were asked to finish the sentence “If I were elected leader of my community, I would make a difference by...” What follows is Kate’s winning entry.
If I were elected leader of my community, I would make a difference by creating a Town Meeting and voting website.
I believe that everyone deserves a voice, even those who cannot make it to the Town Meeting or other voting events. The website would include a spot for actual voting that would be counted in the regular vote. There would also be an email attachment so that at any point during Town Meeting, anyone who emailed their ideas in would be heard. A live feed of the meeting would also be included so that everyone could watch the meeting, even if they don’t know what TV channel the meeting is on or if they have no TV available.
I would first ask people in the community to sign a petition. This would show the Board of Selectmen that people believe in my idea. Next, I would present my idea to the Board of Selectmen. They would bring it to Town Meeting for a vote.
I would also inform the Board of Selectmen that I realize that this technology might create additional costs to the town. To help pay for this, I would create a fun charity benefit to bring the town together, raise money, and get the community excited about my idea. There might be a small tax increase but it would be worth it.
At the end of all of this, my community would hopefully have a new website and everyone in the community would be heard. My community means everything to me. I want to make it a better place and this is how I believe I can do so.
Kate Hertz is a sixth-grader at the Village School in Marblehead.