In their footsteps…

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Youth become city leaders for the day

By Megan Lavey / Selma Times – Journal

Selma mayor Justin Perkins looked up as City Council president Donavin Johnson entered the council chambers. In a strong voice, he stood and relinquished the powers of the city council meeting to the president, then stepped down to take his normal seat.

Well, Justin isn’t really the mayor of Selma &045;&045; his father is.

And Johnson isn’t really the city council president. What both young men displayed, as Selma City Councilwoman Nancy Sewell explained, is an example of a key aspect of city government, namely when a mayor presides over council meetings and when a city council president does.

And yes, Sewell is a real city councilwoman.

She and Councilwoman Jean Martin have taken the reins of the Selma-Dallas Youth and Government Council, a program designed to allow the best and brightest of Dallas County high school students to see what it’s like to really run a city, thus increasing awareness of their overall political environment.

The program was started in the 1970s by former Councilman Johnny Brislin. It was reorganized in 1993 by Sewell and Martin.

Today, the students will have a chance to see the officials whose roles they play during their monthly meetings in action. Youth in Government Day will take the council members out of the school and into city hall, the courthouse and other offices where they can see everything from the mayor’s office to how the police and fire departments work.

The meetings are conducted much like a regular city council meeting, with rules and quorums and reports.

For students like Jed Kirk from Dallas County High, it’s enabled him to possibly consider political science as a future career.