CARLSBAD — Mayor Matt Hall has some challengers taking aim at his office.
Well, not quite yet, but kids up to age 17 throughout the state are vying for the title of “mini mayor” as part of a campaign from Visit California and Visit Carlsbad to engage youths to build their own government.
On Oct. 14 at The Beach Terrace Inn, dozens of kids from all over California and beyond participated in the first “Kidifornia.” There was a sand castle building contest — won by families from Minnesota and Seattle — and kids filmed short videos on why they should be “mini mayor.”
“The campaign will run until Nov. 12 … and we’ll make the decision for who will be mayor of Kidifornia,” Visit Carlsbad Executive Director Sam Ross said. “We will resurrect it again next year and the second year will be, hopefully, competing with other destinations to be the capital of Kidifornia.”
Ross said Visit Carlsbad was the only entity in the state to jump on the opportunity, thus becoming the unofficial “capital” of Kidifornia, although next year may be different. Visit California began the campaign in February and Visit Carlsbad came on board in April.
After the second year, Ross said, Visit Carlsbad will hand off the responsibilities to another city as the primary driver of the campaign.
“We see this campaign has legs for three years,” he explained.
As for the mini-mayor, Ross said he’s received between 10 to 15 submissions and expects the number to grow in the next several weeks.
In addition to the mini mayor, the youth government will consist of a city architect, a city planner and research and development staff. The mayor’s “job” will be to have fun and report back to the council. The city planner is in charge of developing a scavenger hunt in Carlsbad.
Ella Barone, 13, of Orange County came down with her family to participate in the event. She, along with each of her two brothers, submitted a mini mayor video and said she’s hoping to beat her siblings.
“It’s kind of like a little family competition,” she said. “My brothers are very competitive. It would be (nice to beat them), but if I don’t that’s all right. I tried and that’s enough for me.”
As for the campaign, Ross said the goals are twofold. First is to drive up awareness for Carlsbad as a family-friendly destination, he added, as Visit Carlsbad highlights the beaches, skate parks and the lagoons for hiking and water sports.
Second is to drive up tourism in the offseason when hotel prices are cheaper and parking is easier to come by, but the weather is still ideal for outdoor activities. Ross said a driver is targeting out-of-state visitors, especially during winter and spring breaks, to visit Carlsbad and experience all it has to offer.
“Get people here in our low season and drive traffic,” Ross said. “It’s (the campaign) is going well. We don’t have the final tally, but from the exposure we’re getting so far in the media is good.”
To submit a video to become mini mayor, visit www.visitcarlsbad.com.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.