The Times photo by Betsy Reason
The Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville’s Youth in Government Day elected Mayor Mia Rosales (sitting, from right), police chief Gia Parson and fire chief Kaycee Smith, who got to shadow the their positions, had lunch on Thursday with Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear (right), Police Chief Kevin Jowitt (standing left) and Deputy Chief Chris Gellinger (standing center).
The Times photo by Betsy Reason The Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville’s Youth in Government Day elected Mayor Mia Rosales (sitting, from right), police chief Gia Parson and fire chief Kaycee Smith, who got to shadow the their positions, had lunch on Thursday with Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear (right), Police Chief Kevin Jowitt (standing left) and Deputy Chief Chris Gellinger (standing center).

Wouldn’t it be cool to shadow a city or county official for the day? 

Especially if you’re a kid.

Tag along to meetings with Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear. Sit in Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt’s unmarked car. And tour the firehouse with Noblesville Fire Chief Greg Wyant.

They could tour the prosecutor’s office with Hamilton County Prosecutor D. Lee Buckingham II. Sit on the bench with Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Felix. And learn the responsibilities of newly-elected Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush.

Six Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville members were elected by their peers and served as government officials on Thursday. Elected youth spent the day, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., shadowing their positions and learning about the city and county government during the Club’s annual Youth in Government Day. 

I had a brief opportunity to catch up with the youth and some city officials, who treated their young visitors to lunch at Bru Burger in Noblesville.
A smiling Mia Rosales immediately introduced herself as the “mayor.” The North Elementary School fourth-grader sat at the end of the dinner table, next to Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear.

“We got to see his office and chill out. I got to sit in his chair at his desk,” the 10-year-old said. “I interviewed him a little.”

Any particular questions for the mayor? “What’s your most important job?” she asked, to which he replied, “Keeping everybody safe.”

A Girl Scout herself, she asked the mayor about his own years in Boy Scouting.

Mia also got to ride in the Mayor’s car, which has a siren that demonstrated.

“Probably the favorite thing that I got to do was to sit in his chair for a second, acting like I was writing something,” she said.

Mia said the “elected” youth would later in the day be asked to recall their experience and give a brief speech at the club’s annual recognition dinner on Thursday night. She took notes in a journal given to her by the mayor, and planned to practice her speech with Club staff before the dinner.

“The reason I wanted to be mayor is that the mayor likes to help his or her people and likes to help companies,” she said.

Mayor Ditslear enjoys the annual Youth in Government Day. “I just love the Boys & Girls Club,” said Ditslear, who was on the Club’s board of directors for 21 years. 

He asked, in jest, if they ever let any boys win the mayoral election. “We’ve had girl mayors for the last several years,” he said.

Mia laughed. She thinks she might like to be a mayor someday, but she thinks she might need a playground or little gym nearby. 

She thinks a female would be good at the job.

Mia campaigned last week, promoting herself around the Club with campaign posters that she made. She campaigned against six other candidates, comparing her race to the current Noblesville race which, she knows has four candidates.

Mia asked Ditslear why he likes being mayor, to which he responded, “I like serving, and I love to get in front of people, I feel we’ve accomplished a lot, and served Noblesville very well.”

But Mia seemed to already know, saying, “He helps kids and families in need.”

Gia Parson, 11, a fifth-grader at North Elementary, was elected as police chief and spent the day visiting the Noblesville Public Safety Building and City Hall.

Why did she want to be police chief? “Ever since I was little, I liked to help people.and keep them safe,” said Gia, who campaigned against two other candidates. “I used to bring my piggy bank everywhere and help the homeless.”

Her favorite activity? “I got to go to a lie-detector room.” She learned that the polygraph-examination room has a two-way mirror so that the individuals interrogated cannot see anyone who is watching from outside the room. 

Gia also got to sit in a police car and see police drone cameras in action. She got to hear the police car’s sirens at the push of a button, and got to see the emergency lights go on.

Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt, who taught a class at Indiana University Thursday morning, and then caught up with Gia and the others for lunch, said, “We love the Youth in Government Day. The kids are always real neat and fun to interact with. We try to show them a little bit about what we do.”

He said, “My job, to a 10 or 12-year-old is probably the most boring job at the police department.”

Jowitt usually warns the youth that after seeing the more exciting fire department that the police department “will seem really boring,” although youth like to see canines, when on duty, and peek inside of police cars, and see a uniformed officer gear, which weighs as much as 30 pounds. “We always try to make it so they see what they want to see when they’re here,” Jowitt said.

These elected youth even had the opportunity to stand side-by-side in a lineup for a photo opp.

Kaycee Smith, 11, a fifth-grader at Hinkle Creek Elementary, campaigned and was elected as Fire Chief and got to shadow Chief Greg Wyant. 

“Why? “My stepmom is a firefighter, and I wanted to learn more about all of the jobs, like paramedic, and all of the different tools that they have,” said Kaycee, who also asked how the fire chief got his job.

What else? “I got to see where everybody slept, all of the different fire trucks and find out how much they cost, and how much money they (firefighters) make, and how much money they (fire department) use a year.” 

She watched the firefighters demonstrate how to correctly climb up a ladder and come back down. She toured the trucks, the fire apparatus bay and the living quarters. And watched a tone alert test that signaled firefighters to get up in the night. 

“She got to sit at the chief’s desk and ask me questions, and I asked her questions,” said Noblesville Fire Department’s Deputy Chief Chris Gellinger.
At the county, Lilliana Perez, 11, was elected “prosecutor” and shadowed Hamilton County Prosecutor D. Lee Buckingham II; Alyssa Hantelman, 11, was elected “judge” and shadowed Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Felix; and Rebecca Seig, 11, was elected “sheriff” and shadowed Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush.

The day culminated with the Club’s recognition dinner with youth recognized for their year’s achievements, including awards for Youth of the Year, Boy and Girl of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com