"That's why I always bring Officer McGinnis, to protect me from spiders," Danville Mayor Mike Shimansky told the children.
Shimansky and McGinnis shared information about their duties and experiences as public servants with Michelle Bering's class of 20 second-graders at Green Valley Elementary on Tuesday, June 5. Shimansky said one of the students' mothers asked him to come and speak.
"I love doing it," Shimansky said. "I enjoy talking to kids. It's going to be their first interaction with a mayor."
He discussed a range of topics, which included his mayoral duties, the town budget, and his trip to Washington, D.C., meeting powerbrokers. He said he enjoyed meeting the U.S. President's dog more than interacting with politicians.
Then Shimansky asked the class how much money they thought is in the town's budget.
"$40,000," said one student.
"$6,000," ventured another.
Finally, after several more guesses, Shimansky responded.
"It's a little bit more than $6,000," he said. "We have an operating budget of $20 million."
"We get it from your moms and dads," he added. "They pay taxes. We spend money on the Fourth of July parade, to fix potholes, lights..."
Shimansky said breaking it down in easy terms helps children understand.
"You've got to keep it simple," he said.
Some children wondered if he lived in a mansion.
"They get to know who the mayor is," Shimansky said. "I live right up the street."
After the mayor's talk, McGinnis spoke about being a police officer.
"I really like my job," he said, noting that he had considered being a teacher.
The students enjoyed listening to McGinnis.
"How do you protect the mayor?" one child asked.
"How many people did you kill with your gun?" another one wanted to know.
McGinnis hasn't used his gun in Danville, and only uses it to practice on the shooting range, he said.
"I've got to practice so I won't miss," he said.
Later, he talked about some of his other weapons to detain a criminal, such as pepper spray and a stick. He also said it's important for police officers to walk with confidence. If they are timid, suspected criminals may not treat them with respect.
He talked about the damaging effects of vandalism, the importance of staying away from drugs and alcohol, and avoiding fights.
When Shimansky and McGinnis finished their talks, they gave away pencils and Street Smarts goodies. Shimansky told the kids they can e-mail him about town issues.
Shimansky and McGinnis have taken the initiative to meet with other children. They took a student from John Baldwin Elementary School out to lunch at Father Nature's the next day. And they met with two Diablo Vista Middle School students.
Last year, when Councilwoman Karen Stepper was mayor, she took students to meet with town officials.
"I tried to make it educational," Stepper said. "I took them out in the field. It was fun, they were young."
"They were pretty excited that they get to walk with the mayor," she added. "It's another way to meet the community."
Bering said she was pleased that the mayor spoke to her class.
"It was my first time," she said. "The kids were so excited. They were making a welcome poster for the mayor."
"It tied into our social studies class because we learn about our place in our community, and it fit into our curriculum," she added.
Kate Nagle, 6, a student in Bering's class said she had a good time.
"I thought it was fun, and I thought it was interesting when he came and talked to us," she said.
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