League of Kansas Municipalities Honors “If I Were Mayor” Contest Winners

TOPEKA — On January 23, the League of Kansas Municipalities held their annual Local Government Day event. Hundreds of local government officials, both elected and appointed, attended the event to discuss legislative priorities for cities. The League also uses this event as an opportunity to recognize six 7th graders for their participation in the League’s annual “If I Were Mayor” memo contest. This year, the League recognized Brent Henry, a 7th grade student at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School in Goddard, as the statewide winner. Henry’s memo represented the South Central region of Kansas.

Every year, the League hosts a statewide competition for all seventh-grade students. The students are tasked with deciding what change they would want to make in their community if given the chance to be mayor. The memo format requires students to consider their policy proposal, barriers to implementation, and an evaluation of necessary resources. Hundreds of students participated in the contest and five regional winners along with one overall winner was selected.

Henry’s memo focused on building more inclusive playgrounds with accessibility to everyone which included smooth surfaces, wheelchair accessible ramps, adaptive swings, and sensory components. His memo suggested funding for his project would be managed through existing funds for playgrounds, by reallocating funds to buy more inclusive equipment, or through grants and fundraising. Henry emphasized the need for collaboration between schools and community organizations.

The League presented awards to six regional students who were named regional winners in the contest.

Name Region School City
Brent Henry Overall Winner
South Central
Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School Goddard/Wichita
Karissa Haldeman North West Quinter Junior High Quinter
Peyton McCormick South West Scott City Middle School Scott City
Jack Tell North East Billy Mills Middle School Lawrence
Luke Franklin North Central Smith Center Junior/ Senior High School Smith Center
Emma Krueger South East Burlington Middle School Burlington
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.