Eighth Grade Essay Contest


The New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) is inviting all eighth grade students currently enrolled in a school located in a city or village in New York State to participate in NYCOM's second annual essay contest addressing the topic, “If I Were Mayor, I Would ...."


2017 Award Winners

Click HERE to view the award winning essays. In 2017 we had close to 60 participating schools and 730 essays submitted.


This contest is open to any 8th grade student currently enrolled in a school located in a city or village in New York State. If you are unsure whether you are located within a city or village, please click here to view a list of towns, villages and cities in New York State.  Towns are not eligible for this contest.

  • Each essay must contain the student’s name (legibly displayed on essay), school they attend and city or village in which the school is located. If the student lives in the village, but the school is located in a town, the student is still eligible to submit their essay. They simply fill the entry form out with a sponsor (parent, guardian, etc.) name instead of a teacher name.
  • Essay should begin with “If I Were Mayor, I Would...” and explain what you want to do, why you want to do it and how you are going to undertake such action.
  • Essays must be between 350-500 words (1-2 pages | must not exceed 500 words).
  • Only one essay may be submitted per student.
  • If you are submitting one entry form/email for an entire class, please make sure the student's name and both the name of the school and teacher are located on the top of each essay. 
  • Essays must be RECEIVED BY NYCOM NO LATER than MONDAY, MARCH 5, 2018.
  • MAIL or EMAIL all entries to: NYCOM, Attn: Essay Contest, 119, Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12210 | EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. STUDENT'S NAME AND NAME OF SCHOOL MUST BE LOCATED ON EACH ESSAY OR THE ESSAY WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.


  • Essays will be judged on the What, Why and How, along with creativity, clarity, sincerity of thought and proper use of grammar.
  • Three winning essays will be selected and awarded (first place will receive $150, second place $75 and third place $50).
  • Winners will be highlighted on the NYCOM website and in our Municipal Matters magazine.
  • The first place winner along with their parents, teacher and mayor will be invited to and recognized at our Annual Meeting in May in Saratoga Springs.
  • All students whose essays make it to the final round will receive an "Honorable Mention" certificate.

When writing your essay, make sure you state:

  • What you want to do
  • Why you want to do it
  • How you are going to get it done

Below you will find some of the things that mayors can and cannot do.  Please use them to guide you when choosing your What, Why and How.

Mayors can:

  • Lead and collaborate on the building of municipal projects (buidlings, roads, parks, neighborhoods/communities).
  • Promote and implement shared services (working together) with other governments.
  • Apply for grants from the state or federal government to make parks nicer, roads wider and sidewalks safer (you must specify actual grants available from the state or federal government).
  • Work with the legislative branch (city council or village board of trustees) to decide how the city or village should spend its money.
  • Make local laws (stop people from littering or speeding).
  • Manage city and village employees (police officers, firefighters, building inspectors).
  • Adopt resolutions to implement day-to-day operations of the city or village (mayor-for- a-day, park dedication, naming a street).

Mayors cannot:

  • Build private structures.
  • Encroach on parental rights.
  • Accept, give away or loan public money or resources to friends and family.
  • Interfere with school rules (lunch, recess, homework).
  • Infringe on Constitutionally protected rights.

Learn more:

  • Visit NYCOM’s Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.
  • Download this PowerPoint presentation - this will provide a better understanding of New York State local government and the role of a Mayor.
  • Read your local newspaper – this is a good place to learn about current events in your municipality.
  • Ask your mayor or other local officials to come talk to your class about what they do.
  • Find your city or village website on the NYCOM website.


We would appreciate the help of mayors and schools in promoting the essay contest in the following ways:

  • POSTER - Reproduce and display this poster (legal size).
  • ENTRY FORM/BROCHURE- Reproduce and share this brochure (double-sided).
  • SOCIAL MEDIA and/or WEBSITE – Promote this contest link.
  • POWERPOINT - Download this presenation to assist in the dialogue between local officials, teachers and students.

If you would like hard copies of these materials, please contact the NYCOM office and we will be happy to mail them to you.

For questions regarding this contest, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at (518) 463-1185.