Lee’s Summit political watchers, take note: Annalise Arth might have a future in politics. Or advocacy. Or, maybe, both.
The 10-year-old Highland Park soon-to-be fifth-grader has some definite opinions on littering, the environment and other topics that she plans to share with the City Council this week. Topics she has, in the past, shared as well.
For most residents, the political learning curve starts much later in the life. For Annalise, she got the lesson in politics last summer when writing to Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads. She penned an e-mail letter to Rhoads about trash at a construction site, noting her concerns about the animals it could harm, environmental issues and the unsightly aspects of it all.
“Every time I would ride my bike around the construction sites, I would notice the trash,” Annalise said, noting her concern for the animals that could mistake the trash for a meal. “I was hoping the construction workers would clean up the trash after lunch.”
She was eager to hear a response back, but she (rightfully) gives the mayor a bit of a break on it.
“I know he’s busy,” she conceded.
When she contacted Rhoads last summer, she was doing so at a time when he was, let’s say, extremely consumed with council issues. The amount of e-mails the mayor gets would probably overwhelm even the busiest of business owners.
Still, one councilman – Rob Binney – did contact her a few months later, thanking her for her concerns and letting her know he would take them to the council.
Her lesson learned?
“That is takes a long time for them to reply,” Annalise said, a sly smile escaping her face. “And that you should take a charge, stand up and shouldn’t be afraid to speak.”
By the time you read this column, Annalise will have already made her voice heard at public comments at the July 6 City Council meeting. And she is already planning a future letter to Mayor Rhoads.
“I think I will write about the streets this time and recycling and the garbage trucks, because sometimes the trash flies out,” she said, laser focused on her talking points. “On a windy day, there should be something sturdier to hold it down.”
Annalise would also like to see a “kids public speaking” session at a future City Council meeting, too, where area youth could come and voice their opinions on a range of topics.
She’s getting a crash course in politics lately partly because her mom, Dana Arth, was recently nominated to take the District 4 council seat. And while she didn’t get enough votes, young Annalise was gratified that her mother took that chance to serve the community.
“I was proud of my mom for being brave,” she said.
Annalise said she plans to speak to the City Council about the importance of picking up trash on the streets and bringing more attention to the City’s “Adopt a Street” program that allows residents and businesses an opportunity to volunteer for quarterly trash pickup of certain stretches of Lee’s Summit roads.
“Kids and families should adopt a street and organize clean-up days,” she said.
Observing her interview, Mom finally had to weigh in:
“Wait, why is cleaning the streets so important when your room is never clean?” she asked Annalise.
“Because, no animals live in my room,” she responded, pointedly.