Myra Stanfield of West Hartford was elected in November 2019, and following a ceremony Friday she officially began her duties as 2020 Connecticut Kid Governor.
By Ronni Newton
Two months after learning she had been elected Connecticut’s 2020 Kid Governor, West Hartford’s Myra Stanfield was officially sworn in by Secretary of State Denise Merrill.
Myra, a fifth grader at Norfeldt Elementary School, was honored on Connecticut Kid Governor Inauguration Day, Friday, Jan. 17, in a program hosted by the Connecticut Democracy Center at the Old State House in Hartford. The “adult governor” – Gov. Ned Lamont – as well as Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, State Sen. Derek Slap, State Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona, Deputy Atty. Gen. Margaret Chapple, and Judge Dennis Eveleigh, as well as Myra’s family, her class from Norfeldt and teacher Aimee Heaton, Norfeldt Principal Jen Derick, Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore, and other fifth graders from throughout the state were also in attendance.
After she took the oath of office, Myra briefly spoke to the audience, thanking her family and friends and those who voted for her, and outlining her three-part platform of informing people of animal abuse and taking steps to help animals in need.
“I ran for kid governor because I am in love with animals,” said Myra, whose family currently has a dog, two cats, fish, and a hamster. “During my 2020 term I will work toward accomplishing the three main goals of my platform – standing up for animals in need.”
She will begin her efforts by informing people about animal cruelty. She said she plans to interview an expert on companion animals “to learn more about animal cruelty and companion animals that are in need in our state, how humane societies and shelters help them, and what kids like us can do to help these animals.” She said she will share what she learns with fifth graders from throughout the state.
Part two will be encouraging and supporting fundraising at schools throughout the state, including collections of blankets and toys for animal shelters “to make shelter pets feel loved.” There will be a poster contest for artwork related to helping animals, and winning designs will be shared.
Part three of Myra’s platform will be hosting a statewide adoption event for families interested in adopting a pet.
“As your new kid governor I will have important conversations with students and adults all over Connecticut,” she said. “We will talk about many things concerning animals in need and what differences you can make in a pet’s life by being kind to them. Every animal deserves to have a safe place to live with people who love them and treat them with kindness and respect.”
Myra thanked those who joined her at the inauguration, and said she hopes for support for her platform.
Myra’s cabinet – the other fifth graders who were finalists in the Kid Governor election – were also honored. They include Ariana Moreno of Casimir Pulaski Elementary School, Meriden; Daisy Wimberly of JFK Intermediate School, Windsor; Derek Gaszek of Oshana Elementary School, Southington; Dwayne Ceasar of Clover Street School, Windsor; Kylie Nachin of West Vine Street School, Stonington; and Lucie Martinelli, Glastonbury-East Hartford Magnet School.
Before Myra was sworn in and given the official Connecticut Kid Governor sash, other dignitaries spoke to the audience.
Lamont – who was referred to as the “adult governor” – congratulated the kid governor and encouraged Myra and her cabinet to get involved not only with her platform but with issues and departments across the state.
“You’re never too young to be involved,” Lamont said.
Bysiewicz made note of the fact that all five of Connecticut’s kid governors have been girls. She said she previously mentioned that fact to Myra, who responded that they are just making up for not yet having a female president.
Bysiewicz also noted that Myra’s cabinet “looks a lot like our cabinet,” referring to the diversity of males and females, races, and ethnicities among the fifth graders as well as Gov. Lamont’s top advisors.
“What we need to do is what Myra is doing with her former rivals – bring them together to work together,” Blumenthal said.
He also noted that you don’t need to be in elected office to make a difference, “you just need to care, and work.”
As the co-sponsor of the recently passed PACT (Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture) Act, which was signed into law last November, Blumenthal said he is a huge supporter of Myra’s platform, and said the way people care about animals is a measure of how they are as human beings.
Myra was also officially congratulated by Wooden, Cardona – who said his own daughter previously made it to the finals of the Connecticut Kid Governor competition, Slap, and Gilchrest.
Slap, who jokingly offered his services as Myra’s lieutenant governor, said, “You don’t have to wait to make a difference,” noting how students, including his own two daughters, helped advocate for the pay equity bill which passed last year.
“You put yourself out there,” Gilchrest said. “Thank you for being bold.”
NBC Connecticut’s Ted Koppy served as emcee, and State Troubadour Nekita Waller performed and sang the National Anthem.
This is the fifth year of the Connecticut Democracy Center’s Kid Governor program, and more than 6,000 fifth graders voted in this election after viewing the campaign videos of the finalists. Ella Briggs of East Hampton was the 2019 Kid Governor, and in her final speech at the inauguration of her successor said she was proud to have completed her platform of LGBTQ+ Youth Safety. Previous Connecticut Kid Governors also include: Elena Tipton of East Hartford (2016), Jessica Brocksom of Milford (2017), and Megan Kasperowski of Portland (2018).
In addition to Connecticut, Oregon and New Hampshire also elect kid governors each year, and Myra will be collaborating with those individuals as well.
In a news conference following the inauguration, Myra and her cabinet answered questions submitted by fellow fifth graders.
Myra posed for photos with her family, and then moved into her office at the Old State House. She said she can’t wait to get started working on her platform.
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