CONCORD — A fifth-grader from Sunset Heights Elementary School in Nashua was sworn in as the 2019 New Hampshire Kid Governor on Friday, as classmates, family and members of the Gate City’s legislative delegation filled Representatives Hall.
Lola Giannelli appeared confident and poised, her hand on a family Bible and her mother at her side, as Chief Justice of the N.H. Supreme Court Robert Lynn administered the oath of office.
All the pomp and circumstance was the result of an election in November during the launch of the Kid Governor campaign, a civics education program for fifth-graders created by the Connecticut Democracy Center in 2015.
More than 450 fifth-graders from five New Hampshire elementary schools agreed to participate in the program for its first year in the Granite State. Candidates created campaign videos based on their topic of interest, or as it’s called in the program, their platform.
All students in participating classes watched each candidate video and cast their votes.
Top vote-getter Giannelli won the governor’s race, while the two runners-up, Ben Vachon, of Concord, and Evelyn Ellis-Haines, of Belmont, were named Kid Executive Councilors.
Giannelli won on her platform of animal rights, while Ellis-Haines focused on the homeless and Vachon focused on reducing food waste.
“We made it this far, and now the real work begins,” said Giannelli in her inaugural address from the well of the House chamber.
In a Representatives Hall press conference, she outlined her action plan to promote animal rights in the year ahead.
“I plan to have an after-school club to make dog toys, and food and blanket drives for animals,” she said.
Giannelli said she also planned to enlist the aid of her Executive Council in collecting signatures in support of a recently enacted California law requiring that pet stores only sell dogs, cats and rabbits that come from shelters or nonprofits.
When it comes to animals, Giannelli said, “If you see something, say something. Animals need you to be their voice. I’m proud to be the Kid Governor of New Hampshire, and I won’t let you down.”
The Kid Governor program is coordinated by the New Hampshire Institute for Civics Education and New Hampshire Institute of Politics with support from the New Hampshire State House and Department of Education.
Each branch of government was represented at the ceremony, with brief comments by Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, Chief Justice Lynn and Gov. Chris Sununu.