Sawyer Lichtensteiger turned 12 years old today and for his birthday he took over as Deputy Mayor for the day.
At 9:30 a.m. Mayor Kraig Sadownikow welcomed Lichtensteiger with a firm handshake and brought him into his office.
“Here’s your ID and a city pin so the next time you’re wearing a sport coat you can put that on,” he said.
The Mayor had a couple other gifts including city of West Bend business cards in Lichtensteiger’s name and there was a name place on the desk.
As he gently turned over the reigns Sadownikow gave Lichtensteiger a thrilling primer on the makeup of local government.
“The city is divided into pieces which is represented by an alderman and they make up the common council and when you count in the mayor there are nine elected officials and depending where you live in the city you’re in a district,” he said.
Lichtensteiger’s dad chimed in that they lived in District 3. “Oh… I thought we were in District 5,” said young Lichtensteiger. “That’s for hockey,” said his dad.
With that … the political career of a 12 year old was off and running. Lichtensteiger asked if he could declare a day when “everyone could drive to work in a go cart” and then another day when “people could get a police escort to lunch.”
Mayor Sadownikow speculated on setting up a real-life experience where Lichtensteiger would field a call from someone complaining about potholes.
After meeting with the mayor Lichtensteiger toured the council chambers and City Hall, the Police Department, Station 1 Fire Department and the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“I know the Wastewater Treatment Plant doesn’t sound exciting but it’s a pretty cool place,” Sadownikow said.
Asked what his favorite thing is about his job, Sadownikow said “public-private partnerships.”
“Let’s take Regner Park as an example, it’s a public park and the city owns it but within the park there’s a new stage and new covered concession area that was paid for by donations, so public people helped pay for that,” he said. “The city works with people who have a passion for the community to make things happen.”
Lichtensteiger acquired the position as Deputy Mayor via the St. Francis Cabrini Auction. He was presented with the gift by his grandmother.
“I thought this would be cool; I’d take calls and run the city,” said the 6th grader from Silverbrook.
The real Mayor stressed that if Lichtensteiger wanted to succeed in public office he should do well in math and public speaking. “Reading and writing are important – you have to be able to put a sentence together properly,” he said. “And my wife would agree that being a good leader means being a good listener.”
Photo courtesy West Bend P.D.
Mayor Sadownikow passed along that the most rewarding part of his job was “every once in a while you get a sincere thank you or you make a difference.”