Village clerk supervises different kind of voting

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Pictured (l-r, front)) are Owen Katsikas, Bridget Pier and Brooks Hocutt, with teacher Joann Gibson (left) and Village Clerk Meighan Alexander behind them.

Village Clerk Meighan Alexander, who also is the superintendent of elections for Palmetto Bay, had a different kind of election to supervise on Wednesday, Nov. 10, and no candidates for the council were involved.

Alexander was called upon to supervise and certify the voting process for an election taking place in the first grade class of teacher Joann Gibson at Coral Reef Elementary. The vote was to select a class president and two other posts.

Alexander enjoyed seeing the children participate — especially compared to adult elections.

“They do take it seriously, but the atmosphere is so fun that it’s different in that there’s not quite the stress involved,” Alexander said. “But they were serious — you should have seen their campaign posters.”

Alexander had an added, personal interest in seeing the process play out, because her daughter, Bridget Pier, was one of the youngsters running. It gave her a new appreciation for the rigors of campaigning.

“I think it really is a very brave thing to do to stand up in front of a group of people and tell everybody why you’re the best choice,” Alexander said. “I think it’s hard to do, not only for school children but even for adults. It’s not an easy thing. She surprised me. I had no idea she was running for office until she brought the blank poster home.”

The week before, the teacher had asked the students to raise their hands if they wanted to run, and then they had an initial vote to scale it down to three. Those three students then made election posters, prepared a platform statement and handed out goodies such as candy, donuts and pencils to entice votes, not unlike their adult counterparts.

It proved to be a very tight race for the top three candidates, but once the final count was tallied, Brooks Hocutt was elected president of the class with nine votes; Owen Katsikas, vice president, with five votes, and Bridget Pier was elected secretary, which is essentially the same job her mother has as clerk with the village, although on a smaller scale.

“I think it’s great that she’s following in my footsteps,” Alexander said. “She was very excited. She didn’t seem disappointed at all not to be president. I was excited for her. When she won, I told her, ‘you’ll be doing exactly what your mommy does.’”

The students elected will keep those positions for the remainder of the school year. As clerk, Alexander has been called upon to certify a school election before, in two other cities, and she thinks it’s good for schools to teach kids about the election process.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for children because you would hate for them to watch some of the negative campaigning that was going on — not necessarily Palmetto Bay — in the mid-term elections and think that’s what it’s all about,” Alexander said. “I think it’s nice to get them excited and feeling positive about possibly serving in an elective capacity.”

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