Program to teach locals about city government

DULUTH - Future politicians, now's your chance to get your feet wet. The city of Duluth is offering its own version of reality government with the first offering of its L.E.A.D. Academy.

Standing for learn, engage, advance Duluth, the program will offer residents a chance to get an inside look at the happenings, roles and day-to-day operations of city government.

"We're very excited about it," spokeswoman Alisa Williams said. "We've had a wide variety of applications already."

The six-week academy, modeled after the county's Leadership Gwinnett program and a similar offering from the city of Decatur, will take place at different city facilities involving different city players. One session will include members from the planning commission, another will include work with the police department and one will even allow residents to participate in a mock City Council session. A graduation and recognition ceremony will conclude the event.

The program, the brainchild of council member Marsha Anderson Bomar, was initially going to allow only 12 participants, but because of the 25 applications received already, it might be expanded Williams said. She also said the applications received thus far represent another theme of the program - diversity. Williams said with one session scheduled to address this topic, she's already received applicants representing the Korean and Hispanic communities. She also said that while the program is open to those ages 16 and older, she's yet to receive any applications from any high school students.

Applications for the program are available online and at City Hall and the program will run from 6 until 8:30 p.m. on six consecutive Tuesday evenings beginning Sept. 23. Because there is no charge for the program and because of the number of applicants, selected participants are asked to commit to all program sessions. Those not selected will be included in the next selection period the following year.