A day in ‘charge’: Youth gets to play mayor

Courtesy of Deptford Townshi
Deptford firefighters show Baird some of the equipment they use during the boy’s visit to the Deptford Municipal Building as Mayor Paul Medany and Councilwoman Brandi Leidy look on as well.
Courtesy of Deptford Township
Mayor Paul Medany and Keston Baird walk the halls of the township municipal building together. The youth is a student at the Central Early Childhood Center.

For at least a short while, Deptford had another “mayor” in 6-year-old Keston Baird.

In loosely tied blue sneakers and a suit, the Central Early Childhood Center student got to play the role for the day on April 8, exploring the township municipal building and learning about local government. Baird also met with several township employees, Clerk Michelle Hack, police officers and firefighters.

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“It was a real fun day,” said Medany. “We introduced him (Baird) to everybody and showed him what municipal government was all about.”

Baird also saw the inside of a fire truck, police car and dump truck, learning the ins and outs of each vehicle to experience what’s it’s like to work in emergency services. He also learned about the township’s departments and was presented by Medany with a certificate to help remember the day.

“It might have been overwhelming for him,” Medany acknowledged, “but he took it well.”

Baird got to play mayor for the day after he won a contest hosted by the Central Early Childhood Center Parent Teacher Organization. The school is next to the township municipal building.

Baird’s visit coincided with the township’s participation in New Jersey Local Government Week beginning on April 7. The observance is meant to teach young people about how local government works and what’s it’s like.

Medany noted that the week is important to Deptford because it helps pave the way for the next generation to one day take the reigns of municipal government.

“We need good people to take over one day,” he observed, “and it’s important to teach these people about how local government works. The visit was crafted in a way that we could do it together with local government week. It was a very successful day, in my mind.”

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