By Makayla Mason
*Tapping Gavel* “I’d like to call this meeting of the Huntsville City Council to order,” Mayor Kaitlyn Tyra states as she addresses the other people across the city hall room. You may be wondering, when did Kaitlyn become the mayor of Huntsville? Well, she didn’t, not officially. But in the Mock City Council that the LEAP ambassadors host annually, there is no other person that could fit the role better.
The Mock City Council meeting is held once a year at City Hall to help the LEAP Ambassadors (and other students) understand how an official government meeting is conducted, the parliamentary procedures in place to maintain the order, the outline of documents such as city ordinances, and the many other aspects of a City Hall meeting.
All participants had a variety of roles to play, from angry Huntsvillians…
…to the Cultural Arts Director, and of course the Mayor. We conducted the meeting as close to the original as possible. And while Professor Yawn and Stephanie had to interject a few times for teaching opportunities, the LEAP Ambassadors and fellow students conducted the mock city council well.
The primary proposal being discussed was the Ordinance No. 2017-49. This ordinance would authorize the city to enact a “penny for arts” program which stipulated that for every $100 property valuation, 1 penny would be invested into art and cultural enhancements in the city for the fiscal year 2017-2018. Upon authorization, the ordinance would require these funds to be set aside in public art, public art programming, arts or cultural related tourism, or in the Wynne Home Arts Center. It would raise a revenue of $123,000 per year that could be dedicated to this project. (Please note, this is a made-up proposal, designed simply because of the students’ familiarity with the Wynne Home and the fact that other cities have similar programs).
Of course, this topic was a very interesting proposal with two previous Wynne Home interns acting as councilmembers and one as the Cultural Arts Director. There were also two angry citizens that spoke against the utilization of funds, pointing out that we should use the money for restoration purposes after Hurricane Harvey. The Councilmembers represented Huntsville well by asking many questions (even parliamentary ones) to figure out the best way to vote in order to better represent their people. After much debate, which took some time since everyone got immersed in their roles, the council voted to table the ordinance due to a divided councilmember board.
The LEAP Ambassadors and fellow students enjoyed conducting the Mock City Council at Huntsville’s City Hall and learned a lot. They all look forward to applying their knowledge in a real Mock City Council meeting and represent Huntsville in that manner.