Genea Harrison, Governor for a Day: Girl, 8, at Maryland's Helm

Wednesday, 03 Jul 2013 09:22 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Genea Harrison was Maryland’s governor for a day on Tuesday after winning a writing contest aimed at inspiring girls younger than 13 to consider a career in public service.

The patriotic 8-year-old wore red shoes, a white blouse, and blue sweater as she carried out the duties of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), the Washington Post reported.

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Harrison, a rising fourth-grader at Rosa L. Parks Elementary School in Prince George’s County, attended a reception for Taiwanese Ambassador King Pu-Tsung, met with a caucus of women who work in the State House, and sat down with a speechwriting team to edit the address she would deliver that afternoon.

Harrison also attended a conference with Maryland environmental science teachers and a swearing-in ceremony for new state officials.

Among her goals as acting governor for the day, Harrison said she hoped to promote smaller class sizes across the state.

"This year my class had 32 people," she told The Post. "There was no room to walk between the desks."

Harrison’s mother Angie Runyon said that her daughter, who she described as a "teacher's pet," often struggles to grab her teacher's attention due to the size of the class.

In her essay, the 8-year-old explained how solving the overcrowding problem would benefit teachers and students.

"This will help our students listen more to their teachers and not get in trouble with other students," she wrote.

Harrison also recommended Spanish classes for elementary school students and free after-school activities. If she were governor, some of her priorities would be public safety, and programs for job training and drug prevention.

She said she hopes to pursue a career in fashion design or science, but two hours into her day as governor, she shifted her focus to running for public office.

"I hope next time when I’m older I try to run for governor," she said.

While meeting with local officials who are involved with hunger prevention and school administration, Harrison promised her colleagues that she would alleviate budgetary concerns if she's elected.

"If you still work here, I will give you a balance. I will give you the same or maybe even extra," Harrison told them.

Critics of O'Malley were quick to weigh in to Harrison’s temporary appointment.

One reader named Felicity commented on The Post piece, "At 8 years of age, she's smarter than the current governor." Another wrote, "No one noticed the difference."

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