Jelinek schools St. Mary’s students on taxes, workings of State Senate

Published 4:30 am Tuesday, October 12, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Fifth and sixth graders at St. Mary's School got the chance to speak with State Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, Monday morning, rounding out the students' lessons on local, state, and federal government.
Jelinek was the third of three public officials the children spoke to regarding the three levels of government.
On Sept. 11, the students were visited by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and before that, spoke with Niles City Administrator Terry Eull, to learn about local city government.
Jelinek told the kids about his position on the State Appropriations Committee and how and where the state gets money from.
The response to that question was more enthused and positive as the children all answered yes.
Jelinek compared the appropriations committee to the students' parents deciding the family budget, although most families don't work with a nearly $40 billion Jelinek told the children.
When he's not in Lansing, Jelinek told the children he is out doing constituent work, taking phone calls, e-mails, and letters from people living in the Michigan 21st Senate District.
Jelinek explained term-limits to the children and how he is serving the second year of his four-year term. When asked if he plans to run for re-election in two years, Jelinek answered, "Yes, but a lot can change in two years."
The children asked him if he'd like to be president of the United States some day to which Jelinek responded, with a smile, "Not everybody can be president, but one of you could certainly be president someday."
The children seemed most excited when Jelinek explained that he couldn't get fired from his job. The senator explained there were only three ways for him to lose his position; by not getting re-elected, by being re-called, or by being expelled by his fellow senators.
When students asked if he was happy with his job, Jelinek answered "Yes, I enjoy my job very much."
When asked if he wanted to be senator when he was young, Jelinek told the students that he had wanted to be senator since he was in high school."
Students asked Jelinek if he had ever been to the White House.
When the kids were out of questions, Jelinek thanked them for being such good listeners and for having such good questions for him.
Soley said Jelinek's visit will probably not be the last time the students meet with a public official. She hopes to get candidates from this years various elections like County Commissioner Don Ryman to come and speak to the kids.
Soley said she'd been surprised by her success of having speakers come in to talk to the children.
Soley hopes through their interaction with government officials, the children will become interested in government and therefore, be more likely to vote when they come of voting age.