By Tia Lynn Lecorchick Staff Writer

Valeria Tamayo, 11, a Morgan County sixth-grader, won first place in the Georgia Munici­pal Association’s (GMA) annual statewide essay contest, “If I Were Mayor.” Tamayo wrote an essay on what she would do if she had the opportunity to be mayor for just one day. The contest is open to all Georgia six graders and each submitted essay must be less than 350 words. Twelve winners are chosen, one from each district in the state of Georgia, each receiving a $250 savings bond, certificates declaring them “Mayor for a Day,” and an invitation to a luncheon at Turner Field in Atlanta on May 8 with their parents and teacher. One final winner will be chosen on May 8 and will receive an additional $250 savings bond.

Tamayo enjoyed having her voice heard and recognized by the GMA. “I feel very blessed for being part of this whole experience. I really liked having a chance to say how I would make Madison a better place to live,“ said Tamayo. Tamayo’s language art teacher at Morgan County Middle School, Danielle Bruce, was thrilled when she learned Tamayo had won. “I am extremely proud of this young lady for winning this contest!” said Bruce.Bruce suspects a bright and successful future for Tamayo. “Valeria is a gifted writer and talented young lady. I am extremely proud of her essay because of her writing style and the ideas she had on making Madison a better place to live. I could see Valeria accomplishing these ideas by making them into a reality.

This essay gives a way into educating our young adults on how the city government impacts their lives.”Tamayo proposed three key ideas in her essay on how she would run Madison if she was the mayor. “These are my ideas to make Madison a better place. If we bring in new businesses, have community service projects, and extend the bypass, it will really make Madison a better place to live,” wrote Tamayo. Tamayo believes welcoming new businesses will attract more tourists and offer more to locals. She believes community service projects are necessary to keep Madison beautiful and thriving.

She also believes extending the bypass would create an alternate route for trucks, so they don’t drive straight through the heart of Madison. Tamayo looks forward to finding out if she will be the supreme winner at next month’s luncheon. While the GMA chooses the district winners, the city of Madison will chose their own local winner for the contest as well.

“Locally, the Main Street Advisory Board will review the same essays that were presented to GMA and select a winner. It could be the same person or not…The winner will receive $100 in Downtown Dollars, a certificate recognizing them as ‘Madison’s Mayor for a Day,’ and their essay and picture with the mayor published in the paper. [The winner] will have the opportunity to attend the April 14 city council meeting, “call the meeting to order” and lead the Council in the Pledge of Allegiance” that begins each meeting,” explained Ann Huff, Main Street director for the city of Madison. The city has not yet announced the local winner.