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Youth Mayor Jessica Willis no stranger to service or civics

When Jessica Willis won the Youth-and-Government mayoral race

Tuesday, no one was more surprised than her.

Other members of the Selma/Dallas County Youth-and-Government

Council, though, thought otherwise.

Willis stood before students from city and county public and private

schools as she delivered her campaign speech in Selma City Council

chambers. Standing before her campaign banner declaring &uot;Vote Jess

for Mayor,&uot; Willis delivered a message of change.

And, of course, why she should be elected mayor.

Willis, a sophomore from John T. Morgan Academy, said she declared

her candidacy for mayor because she thought it would be fun, was

something new and because she wanted to learn about government.

That’s something all Youth-and-Government members will do in the

coming months.

The program was first conceived by former Councilman Johnny

Brislin in the 1970’s, but it was resurrected by council members

Nancy Sewell and Jean Martin in 1993. Its goal is to increase the

political awareness of students while they learn the meaning of

social action through governmental experience.

Willis is no stranger to social action.

She is a member of the Interact Club &045; a community service

organization &045; the Science Club, The Beta Club &045; an honor society &045;

as well as being a cheerleader and playing the piano and violin.

Willis said her favorite subject is science because it was hands-on.

real slow when you do lab.&uot;

The Youth-and-Government program lasts until April, but culminates

in February during Youth-and-Government Day when the students run

the City of Selma’s operations.

Willis said on that day she’ll work toward bringing more business to

Selma and cleaning up some litter around town.

everyone to learn about government so we can understand the way it

works,&uot; Willis said.