KOKOMO, Ind. — As a political science major, Jake LeDonne learns about the theory of government and world politics in his classes.
As an intern with Logansport Mayor David Kitchell, he gets an up close and personal look at how it works in real life. The internship has reinforced the reason he chose to study political science.
I knew I wanted to make an impact in the world, make a difference, make the world a better place for people,” he said. “I thought you had to be famous, rich, or in politics to better people’s lives. I chose political science to get into a position to enact legislation to improve people’s lives.
LeDonne, a senior at Indiana University Kokomo, is in the mayor’s office five days a week, shadowing Kitchell as he conducts city business, talks to city residents, attends meetings, and talks to business leaders.
I never really knew what all went into city government before. It’s kind of overwhelming,” the Logansport resident said. “In school, we talk about government and politics at the national and international level, but with this internship, I’m seeing what I’ve learned in action, at the local level.
He recalled, for example, a class discussion about national security in European nations, including closed circuit television in place that allows police to more easily determine and apprehend suspects in crime. Now, he’s seeing those same kinds of systems considered along walking trails in Logansport, along with trail markers so those requesting assistance can more easily tell police their location.
I didn’t know a mayor would have to talk to so many people in a day,” LeDonne said. “He’s constantly on his phone talking to business people around town. We’ve recently lost two grocery stores in Logansport, and he’s been working with business leaders, trying to get more stores, and more businesses to locate here. The amount of contacts he has in a day is incredible.
He appreciates Kitchell’s mentorship, and his willingness to answer questions and talk about current events.
The mayor knows a lot of stuff,” he said. “I take a lot of notes, and at the end of the day, I read back over my notes, and I’m amazed at how much he knows.
The best advice he’s received during the internship?
He told me if someone comes to me with a concern, to always listen to what they have to say, put aside your own ideas about the issue, hear what they have to say, and take their perspective into account,” he said.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.