On Monday evening, Hastings had a new mayor for about half an hour.

Victoria Roy, a fifth-grader at Hastings Middle School, had the honor of leading the council meeting. She sat in the mayor’s chair and had the first and last say with the gavel.

Roy earned the recognition and the mayor’s seat for a short essay she submitted to a statewide contest sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities. The contest launched last fall as a way to promote city government and the services cities provide to its citizens, said Mayor Paul Hicks.

Roy was already involved in writing and is part of a writing club at school. It was her teacher who showed her the contest, she said, and she decided to give it a shot.

“It sounded like fun,” she said.

About a year ago she had gotten to visit St. Paul’s city hall, she said, and she had also seen Hastings’ mayor, so she was already a little curious about city government.

The contest had students ages 7 to 12 answer one question: “Cities do lots of things to make our lives better. They provide services such as clean water, fire, libraries, parks and recreation, police, senior services, sewers and garbage, streets and sidewalks. If you were mayor for a day, what would you do to make these services even better than they already are for all the people in your city?”

At first, Roy said, she wasn’t sure what to write. So she sat down with her mother and they started brainstorming ideas and examples of what she could do as the mayor of Hastings. Once she had a good sized list, she picked the best and started writing.

After Roy submitted her essay, she began to think that she hadn’t won, because it took a while for any news of the results to come back. But a couple weeks before Christmas, Roy’s mother got a call that she was one of four winners. The contest chose two winners from the 7 to 9 age group and two from the 10 to 12 age group. There were more than 400 students who submitted essays from all around the state.

Winners will have their essays published in the January/February 2014 issue of “Minnesota Cities” magazine and a $100 check. Mayor Hicks presented Roy with her check at Monday’s council meeting.

Roy said she’ll probably put the money in savings. She’s saving to buy an iPhone, and also for college, she said.

Here’s Roy’s winning essay:

If I were mayor for a day I would create a senior and kid program where seniors tell stories to the kids and kids would keep the seniors company.

Also one Saturday a month, I would invite people to clean up a different park each month and show off the different things to do at those parks.

Also kids could sign up to volunteer to shelf books at their local library. They could also help people find books if they were confused on where the books were.

Lastly, I would invite people to volunteer to stand in the doorway to greet people when they walk into the library to put a smile on people’s faces. I would also invite people to talk to other people and maybe even say “hi” to brighten someone’s day.