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Newport mayor talks to 2nd-graders about the appeal, and challenges, of government

Every mayor was a second-grader once.

So maybe a future mayor of Newport Beach sits among the children at Our Lady Queen of Angels School.

For now, though, the current mayor will go to them.

Mayor Kevin Muldoon stopped by the Newport Beach Catholic school Wednesday as a highlight of students’ second-grade civics lessons.

They had already learned much. Two classes huddled around Muldoon, listing the three branches of government — legislative, executive and judicial — and the ideals that good leaders promote and protect, such as equality, justice and freedom. Those were big words and big concepts coming from little voices.

Muldoon gave them life tips — be a good neighbor, be respectful. But be competitive and work hard to reach your goals.

Mostly, the students grilled him about what it’s like to help run a city. Some questions were soft and shy; some were asked through a giggle.

Is being mayor hard? (It can be, he said.)

What’s the hardest part? (Being considerate of everybody’s views and needs; there’s a lot to weigh.)

What’s your daily schedule? (An astute observer noticed Muldoon’s two cellphones so figured he must be pretty busy.)

Do you get a break on weekends? (Usually.)

How did you get to be mayor? (First he had to campaign for and win a spot on the City Council. Then he had to be chosen by other council members to be mayor pro tem and finally mayor.)

Also, his favorite colors are blue and black, and no, he doesn’t ride around in a limousine, though he does get to be part of the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.

Then things got philosophical.

What made you want to be mayor? (“I guess I’m an idealistic person and I believe in the traditional American values of our Constitution,” he said.)

Things got frank.

The most frustrating part of being mayor, he told one girl, is tackling the city’s debts. “It’s like having a lot of bills.”

“How much do you like being mayor?” asked a boy named Vance.

“I like it a lot,” Muldoon replied.

“Like, high?” Vance pressed eagerly as he swung his legs, his striped sneakers not quite touching the floor.

Vance might have a grand plan brewing, because a few minutes later, he raised his hand again.

“If I run for mayor, will you vote for me?”

“What if we make an alliance?” Muldoon answered. “You vote for me and I vote for you later?”

“OK!” Vance said.

After all, every mayor was a second-grader once.

hillary.davis@latimes.com

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the event happened on Tuesday. It was Wednesday.

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