LYNWOOD – Lincoln Elementary School fifth-grader Eduardo Zuñiga on Tuesday night presided over his first City Council meeting as the city of Lynwood’s first “Kid Mayor.” From calling the City Council’s first meeting of 2015 to order, to participating in the roll call, the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation, 11-year-old Eduardo is the first to take the dais as part of Lynwood’s first Kid Mayor Program.
Spearheaded by Lynwood Mayor José Luis Solache, with support from his council colleagues, the Kid Mayor Program will give 12 Lynwood Unified School District students the opportunity to serve as the junior mayor of the city for an entire month.
One Kid Mayor will be nominated every month by each of the school district’s 12 elementary school’s teachers. Only one student, from fourth through sixth grade classes, will be nominated for the position every month and the decision will come exclusively from the teachers.
Eduardo was selected from about 180 fourth through sixth graders at Lincoln Elementary.
Solache said he is “very excited” about the program. Not only will each Kid Mayor be attending all of the city’s events with Solache, but he or she will also receive a $400 scholarship from the mayor.
Solache said he will cash out his monthly health benefits for the year to personally fund the scholarships, or as he calls it, “college seed funds.”
“This is me paying it forward. When I was a sixth grader, one of my teachers gave me an application to the Upward Bound Program. He believed in me,” said Solache, who served 10 years on the LUSD school board before his election to the city council.
This program, Solache said, will give teachers the chance to select one student from each elementary school in Lynwood for this opportunity.
“Our youth need our support. They need to be reminded that if they work hard and follow their dreams, that anything is possible,” said Solache. “Someone believed in me and my parents always told me to follow my dreams. My dream was to one day be mayor of this great city, and here I am. Anything is possible if you set your mind to it.”
While he wants to grow up to be a baseball player, Eduardo was nominated by teachers at Lincoln Elementary “for being an excellent student, for his enthusiasm, for having very good manners and for always being willing to help and learn from others.”
Was Eduardo’s mother surprised that he was nominated for the position?
“Not at all,” said Fabiola Hernandez. “Eddy always makes me proud. He is a good boy and always sets a good example for his younger siblings. I am always proud of him. I was surprised to learn about this program, and I’m so proud that he was nominated, but he deserves it. He’s a dedicated straight-A student and he is polite and he’s always helpful. He loves school. This just makes me more proud of him.”
Eduardo received a proclamation from the City Council along with a check for $400 and a name badge. With tears in his eyes, Eduardo thanked his family for their support, the City Council and his teachers “for believing in him” and promised to not let them down.
Moments later, Solache resumed the rest of the City Council meeting, while Eduardo stepped out into the lobby to hold his first official press conference with members of the media who asked what his first request as mayor would be.
Would kids get to take more time off of school? His answer was “no.” Less homework? His answer was still “no.”
So what would the Kid Mayor’s first request be?
“I would like for the entire city to play baseball for an entire week,” he said, “like dedicate a whole week just to baseball.”
Published: Jan. 8, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 39