Northside High School students got a lesson in municipal government Thursday from some of the city’s top experts on the subject.
Ten juniors and seniors sat in council chambers as Mayor Randy Toms, City Councilman Mike Davis, City Attorney Jim Elliott, City Clerk Bill Harte and others explained how the city government functions.
One of the first things Toms told the group was that there are two council members elected at large and then others are elected by district.
“Essentially every citizen of Warner Robins has three elected council members that they can call,” he said.
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He also explained that the city is set up similar to the federal government, with the mayor’s office as the executive branch, the City Council as the legislative branch and the Municipal Court as the judicial branch.
One of the students asked Davis, a district councilman who serves the Northside area, if his job is hard.
“It can be hard, but it’s not,” he said. “Serving people is not a hard job. When you come down and try to make more out of your job than what it really is, then it can get complicated.”
Elliott told the students that contrary to what they may think, he does not actually spend much time in court as city attorney. He said most of his job involves reviewing contracts, proposed ordinances and other office work.
The city’s assistant attorney, Kristi Minor, got the most questions from the students after explaining that she works with City Court. She explained that people can get a fine of nearly $1,000 if they are caught with even a small amount of marijuana. She also told the students if they are in a car and police find marijuana in the vehicle — not on any one person — then everyone in the vehicle can be charged unless someone claims ownership.
And hardly ever, she said, does anyone do that.
Toms, a court bailiff for 15 years, backed her up on that.
“Be real careful who your friends are because most of them will throw you under the bus,” he said.
Richard Turner, a science teacher at Northside, said the students weren’t from a particular class studying government, but were taken on the field trip to let them hear from real-world people about how government operates. They also went to the police station after their City Hall visit.
“Part of what we teach are life skills, so as our seniors are about to leave school, we want to make sure they at least get to see this,” Turner said.