Governor presents Berkeley Middle School student with award for âIf I Were Mayor’ winning essay
A Berkeley Middle School student was one of eight regional winners from across the state in the Virginia Municipal League’s âIf I Were Mayorâ essay contest. Seventh-grader Sophie Freiling’s 486-word essay was judged the best in a region that included the City of Williamsburg. She is the daughter of Williamsburg Vice Mayor Paul Freiling.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe presented the eight students with their awards on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 28, in the Lecture Hall of the Library of Virginia in downtown Richmond. The awards were presented following the governor’s remarks to approximately 220 local government officials attending the association’s VML Day at the Capitol program.
The âIf I Were Mayorâ contest drew nearly 1,000 essays from 7th graders across the Commonwealth. The regional winners were:
Region 1 Bailey Nash Jonesville Middle School (Lee County)
Region 2 Kendryek Wheeler Woodrow Wilson Middle School (City of Roanoke)
Region 3 Macalister Gordon Daniel Morgan Middle School (Winchester)
Region 4 Garrett Love Buckingham County Middle School
Region 5 Logan Kurtz Manassas Park Middle School
Region 6 Adele Masson Culpeper Middle School
Region 7 Na’Seem Hopson Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority
Region 8 Sophie Freiling Berkeley Middle School (Williamsburg)
In addition to a framed certificate, each regional winner received a check for $150. The statewide winner â Na’Seem Hopson of Hopewell â received a certificate and $250.
Here is Sophie’s winning essay!
If I were mayor â¦
By Sophie Freiling
Berkley Middle School
After living in Williamsburg my whole life, if I were mayor some of the key issues I would address are the struggling tourism economy, the need for an additional middle school, the cost of healthcare for the city and local businesses, and transportation. If I were mayor, I would suggest making the first hour of the Prince George Parking Garage free to encourage more people to park and shop downtown to help the tourism economy. Another way to boost the tourism economy is to have development or investment companies redevelop the Williamsburg Shopping Center. A way to draw more people out for food would be to have more outdoor seating to create vibrancy, especially in Merchants Square. One more way to boost the tourism economy would be to create a focal point for the Arts District, a chance for more small businesses and another attraction for tourists.
Another thing I would like to do if I were mayor would be to address the need for an additional middle school. I would work more closely with James City County and the School Board to ensure that future middle school students don’t suffer overcrowding.
Adding on to the middle schools we have now would be a cheaper alternative to building a new middle school. The additions could add about one hundred students to each school with enough space for everyone and leave money that the teachers could use in the future. The cost of healthcare for city and local businesses is another issue I would focus on. A way to fix this would be to buy Country Road from Colonial Williamsburg and turn it into a fitness park where people could run, bike, or just take a relaxing walk. This would promote exercise and would keep people healthier, lowering the amount of healthcare they need.
Another way to keep people healthy would be to have chain restaurants publish nutritional data on menus so people are aware of what they are eating. People will then have the option to choose healthier meals when they go out to eat and not consume empty calories. One more way to lower the cost of healthcare would be to build more hiking, walking, biking, and kayaking infrastructure. This would give the potential for more fitness areas and trails to exercise on.
The final issue I would address would be improvements on transportation. I would expand the train service so there are more trains running faster. This would allow people to travel without backing up the roads. When people do drive their cars, I-64 gets backed up very easily. Widening I-64 with two more lanes on each side would keep the traffic moving and make it easier and safer for tourists to travel to Williamsburg. By boosting the economy, preventing overcrowding in schools, lowering the cost of healthcare, and creating more transportation options I would make Williamsburg a better place if I were mayor.
The Virginia Municipal League is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan association of local governments established in 1905 to improve and assist local governments through legislative advocacy, research, education and other services. The membership includes all 38 cities in the state, 160 towns and eight counties. See www.vml.org.
Virginia Municipal League
Contact: Anita Yearwood
Photo courtesy: Michaele L. White, Governor’s Office