2017-12-07 / News

Elected Officials Day provides insight to students about those who represent them

BY TANYA TERRY
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com


Bendle School Board President Dave Wallace, Mayor Paula Zelenko, Genesee County Commissioner Ellen Ellenburg and State Representative Tim Sneller participated in a session during Elected Officials Day Dec. 1 at Bendle High School. State Senator Jim Ananich also participated in an earlier session. 
Photo by Tanya Terry Bendle School Board President Dave Wallace, Mayor Paula Zelenko, Genesee County Commissioner Ellen Ellenburg and State Representative Tim Sneller participated in a session during Elected Officials Day Dec. 1 at Bendle High School. State Senator Jim Ananich also participated in an earlier session. Photo by Tanya Terry BURTON —Bendle High School students had positive interactions with community leaders that represent them and learned lots on Elected Officials Day, Dec. 1.

“It’s good to get these elected officials in front of students to share exactly what they do,” said Niles McNiel, who hosted the event in his government class.

“It’s one thing for me to teach them,” McNiel added. “It’s another thing for the elected officials to answer questions. I think it’s very valuable to the students.”

County Commissioner Ellen Ellenburg told the students when people ask someone to represent them, they don’t do it for the pay.

Ellenburg said Burton and other parts of Genesee County were in a bad situation with drugs, and that was something she felt government needed to stay on top of.

She said sometimes the hardest part of her job was making decisions that affected people’s incomes, and in her position, she has the ability to raise taxes.

“Usually I really think hard on those, like who I represent and how it’s going to hit them and how badly it’s going to hit them,” she said. “If they’re going to benefit out of it, such as with getting the roads fixed, that’s something that could be brought up through state government or at the county level.”

State Representative Tim Sneller said his work weeks are never the same.

Sneller said he served on three house committees: The House Agriculture Committee, The House Financial Liability Reform Committee and The House Energy Committee.

He said he interacts with state departments through his committees. People come before the committees to tell them what is good or bad about proposed bills.

Sneller said a lot of laws are generated by constituents who come to government officials with problems, but the hardest part of the job was being able to tell someone no. He said, however, he, as a democrat, works with republicans to convince them that various pieces legislation are important.

“I’m one of five democrats that have gotten a piece of legislation passed in the Michigan republican controlled House because I worked very hard to convince them the legislation was good not only for my community, but it was good for their community,” he said.

One student, LaMaya Cunning, asked Mayor Paula Zelenko for tips for a person who wants to become a mayor.

“You’ve got to be very patient,” Zelenko said. “Not everybody is going to like you. You have to learn to listen more than you talk. Read. You have to like people, and genuinely like talking to them because you have to learn what their concerns are and work with them to try to resolve those issues whenever it’s in your power to do it.”

Another student, Grace Thompson asked School Board President Dave Wallace what the best part of working for Bendle Public Schools was.

“The best part is when each and every one of you walk across that stage and get your diploma,” Wallace said. “We can make all the rules and regulations we want to make sure you’re safe and that you get a good education, but it means nothing until you walk across that stage.”

McNiel said because of Elected Officials Day, his students have a better idea what those who represent them do on a daily basis.

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