Making a better place: Scotts Mills student takes third in Oregon mayors’ contest

September 2010 Posted in People

By Kristine ThomasScotts Mills Mayor Ron Bielenberg and student Chris Celio.

Chris Celio wants to be the voice for people “who are too shy to say anything. I want to help make things better for other people or at least try to.”

He believes one way to help people in his community is by becoming mayor.

His only hurdle is he has to wait five years before he can even vote.

That hasn’t prevented the incoming eighth-grade student at Scotts Mills Elementary School from contemplating what he would do if he were mayor.

Celio, 13, took third-place in the Oregon Mayors’ Association contest called “If I were Mayor…” He received a $25 gift certificate to Border’s Bookstore from the city of Scotts Mills for winning first place in the city’s contest and $25 from the Oregon Mayors’ Association for taking third. He had hoped to win first place in the state contest because the prize was a laptop computer.

Scotts Mills Mayor Ron Bielenberg said Celio should feel honored to take third place in the state competition.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend the conference where mayors voted on the best essays so I didn’t get to lobby for Chris,” Bielenberg said. “He took third place on his own and on the merit of his essay.

Celio said the essay was an assignment for his seventh-grade class.

If I were mayor…
Excerpts of Chris Celio’s essay:

“I would ask for volunteers to
help clean up the community
park so it would be safer for all
people in the community. I would
ask for additional funding to make
the park bigger and better and then
I would add a skate park to the
community so kids somewhere
to go after school hours.

“If I had money and I had to invest
in my community, one of the things
I would change is the park. …
because in my opinion everybody
loves the park what’s a better
place than the park?”

In the essay, he wrote, “If I were mayor, I would do everything a mayor has to do but I would add even more to the community.”

His ideas include opening a gas station in Scotts Mills so people wouldn’t have to drive to Silverton or Mount Angel to buy gas; improving schools so “we can help more kids reach their potential which would make the future even brighter” and asking volunteers to clean the city’s parks.

Sitting at a picnic bench with Bielenberg, Celio said if he were mayor he would like to make the city “green and conserve energy to help the planet. I would want businesses to be eco-friendly like having solar panels and stuff.”

The son of Esther and Carlos, Celio said he was “pretty surprised” he took third place.

“My mom was really shocked,” he said.

This fall, Celio plans to run for student council president and play soccer for the Silver Falls Soccer Club.
Bielenberg said the contest is a great way for students to learn what their local government does and to think of ways they can be involved.

After chatting with Bilenberg, Celio said the hardest task for a mayor would be making decisions.

For example, Celio said, what if the city council and mayor had to decide between bringing in a business that posed a threat to the environment versus bringing jobs to the community? What would he decide?

“I think that would be hard decision but I would go with protecting the environment because that would be the best choice,” he said.

His interest in politics derives from wanting to help his community.

“I think government’s role should be to help people,” he said. “I think we have to be more focused on our government and what the city is doing to help people and make it better for them.”

Bielenberg said he is impressed with Celio’s interest in government and how it works.

“He understands that if people want to make their government better than they have to get involved,” Bielenberg said. “It does no good to complain about the government if you are not willing to become involved.”

Someday, Celio said, he plans to “try to be mayor.” Until then, he hopes other’s will implement his ideas.

“I know some people may not approve of the things I might do,” reads the last sentence of his essay, “but that is what I would do if I were mayor… try to make a better place for all.”

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