The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Noblesville mayoral candidates Julia Church Kozicki (left), Chris Jensen (middle) and Mike Corbett (right) give autographs and answer questions from Noble Crossing Elementary third-graders during a mayoral forum on Tuesday at the school.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Noblesville mayoral candidates Julia Church Kozicki (left), Chris Jensen (middle) and Mike Corbett (right) give autographs and answer questions from Noble Crossing Elementary third-graders during a mayoral forum on Tuesday at the school.

“What do you think is the most important change to make in Noblesville?” “What is one improvement project you have in mind?” “Why is Noblesville’s history important and how will you make sure we preserve it?”

These are all great questions that Noble Crossing Elementary School third-graders posed to our Noblesville mayoral candidates on Tuesday during a candidates forum at the school.

“How do you plan to improve and maintain the parks we love in our community?” asked student Troy McNew.

Other students asked: “What is your vision for Noblesville Schools?” and “What is your plan for protecting the animals’ habitats as our community continues to grow?”

Third-graders came up with dozens of well thought-out questions that they penned on brightly colored sticky notes and displayed on posters in the back of the room. The questions were then compiled with 20 chosen for the mayoral candidates’ Q&A panel discussion. Each student read his or her own question.

Students asked each mayoral candidate what he or she were “most excited about” if elected mayor. How would each candidate “show and encourage kindness in the community?” And would they “bring back our train?”

Students asked if their voice would be heard? Third-grader Alllie Groothoff asked: “Will you listen to the opinions of the kids in Noblesville?”
Bridgett Ballard asked, “What are you most excited about if you become mayor?”

Similar to the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce’s three Candidate Conversations forums, the candidates in attendance -- Mike Corbett, Julia Church Kozicki and Chris Jensen (candidate Vince Baker was absent) -- fielded 90 minutes of questions on an array of subjects, from public safety and environmental initiatives to parks and history.

But at this forum, the candidates were very relaxed. They were entertaining, animated, and more engaging than ever as they shared colorful, candid, fun details about themselves, their kids, their families, their neighborhoods. They talked about parks offerings, our strong schools and careers that keep Noblesville High School graduates in Noblesville. They explained political terms used by government officials. They refreshed our history of Hamilton County.

They talked about their current and first jobs. They talked about how candidates don’t get paid until they’re elected for office. And they shared how they’ve spent the past several months campaigning by knocking on doors, being accessible and playing host to scheduled open meetings for the community.

Students and candidates alike had a great time.

The forum ended with students asking for autographs from the candidates, just in case any of the three would become the president someday, perhaps.

Marnie Cooke, the district’s spokesperson said, “The panel discussion allowed the third-graders to drive their own learning and created an engaging, real-world application for their classroom study.”

The first-time forum at Noble Crossing was part of third-graders’ government study unit.

Jessica Homan, the school’s media specialist, helped coordinate the forum with the third-grade teachers. As media specialist, she gets to step into teachers’ planning meetings. 

“This is one of those times when I help them plan and weave in the reading, writing and government units,” Homan said. The local government unit also focuses on “current events and what is happening in Noblesville,” she said.

Third-graders received printouts of the chosen questions before the panel discussion began. Then they listened intently and took notes about each of the candidates’ responses. The students would then be expected to analyze their findings from the panel, and do further research and study, before casting their own mock votes for Noblesville mayor on May 7, Election Day.

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