Politics is in their blood

PORTAGE: Daughters of mayor, deputy clerk shadow parents on Youth Government Day
2006-03-08T00:00:00Z Politics is in their bloodJOYCE RUSSELL
March 08, 2006 12:00 am  • 

PORTAGE | City Engineer Craig Hendrix plopped down a 3-inch thick binder in front of Sara Olson Tuesday morning.

She was, after all, mayor for the day, and the binder contained a contract for the removal of the sanitary sewer plant at U.S. Steel.

It was the start of what was going to be a long day for Olson and nine of her peers as they took on city government during the annual city/Portage High School Youth Government Day.

Olson, and the others, all seniors, were elected by their classmates to serve as elected officials for the day, learn about the city and its inner workings by shadowing department heads.

For Olson and Rachel Reed, it was special.

Olson is the daughter of Mayor Doug Olson and granddaughter to the city's first mayor, Arthur Olson.

Reed is the daughter of deputy clerk-treasurer Lynn Reed. Her aunt, Anita Bando, also served the city as clerk-treasurer for several years.

"Rachel is a city hall baby," said her mom, adding she's held a job at City Hall for 20 years, two years before her daughter was born.

But for Rachel, who will study special education at the University of Southern Indiana, it was a chance to see, she said, firsthand, the things her mom talks about at the dinner table.

"I hear about what he does, but I wanted to see it," said Sara Olson, who'll be attending Manchester College for law and marketing.

Both Rachel and Sara had full agendas.

Rachel reviewed Tuesday night's City Council agenda.

Sara got a lesson in city development from Hendrix and A.J. Monroe, director of community planning and development.

"I wish we could have had it already," she said as the two explained plans for a public beach.

Rachel and Sara were joined by eight other students -- Willita Lewis, Nate Sosa, Dave Murray, Claudia Martinez, Justin Marion, Brandon Bailey, Cody Drees and Tony Merdizabal, who spent the day listening to department heads, taking a tour of city facilities, shadowing different departments and having a mock City Council meeting in the afternoon where they debated cable television fees and the city's new ordinance regulating used vehicle sales.

They wrapped up their day at Tuesday night's regular City Council meeting where they sat side-by-side with officials, read ordinances and watched -- close up -- their government in action.

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