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5-year-old discusses politics over ice cream with mayor, governor

5-year-old discusses politics over ice cream with mayor, governor

September 19th, 2018 by Bob Watson in Local News

Taylor Duncan, right, watches and listens as Gov. Mike Parson visits with some FFA students who were enjoying a treat at Central Dairy on Tuesday. Duncan spent a couple of hours with Parson, during which she toured the Governor's Mansion, went to Central Dairy for ice cream then visited with him in his Capitol office.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

Taylor Duncan, 5, discovered this year that "The ice cream cone was invented in 1904 at the (World's) Fair in St. Louis — along with cotton candy, burgers and hot dogs.

"The (ice cream) guy ran out of bowls and asked the waffle maker to make more waffles."

She was sitting at a table Tuesday afternoon in Central Dairy with Gov. Mike Parson and Mayor Carrie Tergin, eating an orange sherbet as she explained her discovery to Parson.

Tuesday's visit was part of a project she and her mother, Therese — who homeschools her children — developed for her kindergarten/first-grade year.

Taylor's father, Mike Duncan, is a military policeman at Fort Leonard Wood, and the family lives in Waynesville.

"And they were talking about going to every different city in the state and learning about Missouri history," Mike Duncan told reporters while his daughter was explaining the World's Fair history to Parson and Tergin.

"Therese and Taylor were talking about it and decided, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we tried to have ice cream with the mayors — and that would help (us) learn about the different cities throughout Missouri?'"

Her father said Taylor "has learned a lot about the overall state, the flag, the governor — and how everything has come to be, to this day."

On Tuesday, Taylor's group included both parents, sister Emma, 3, and brother Carter, 5 months.

And whose idea was it to have these trips?

"Taylor. Definitely Taylor," Therese Duncan told the News Tribune while holding the baby and watching her two daughters on the balcony outside the governor's Capitol office.

"At first, we were just going to try to visit some of the local mayors — but everybody that heard about it was really supportive," Therese added. "We figured it would be a great way for us to see the state, too."

The project started in August, and Taylor already had met with 32 of Missouri's mayors when the family went to Branson on Monday — and she had ice cream with about 70 mayors attending a conference in Southwest Missouri.

So far, no mayor has said no to Taylor's request for an ice cream summit, and while talking about the success she's enjoyed since starting the project in August, Taylor and her mother decided to "give a little shout-out on Facebook to the governor, and see what happens," her father explained.

After driving up from Waynesville, Taylor and her family got a small tour of the Mansion while waiting for Parson to join them after a meeting.

That tour included looking at some of the portraits of former first ladies hanging on the Mansion's main floor and a tour of several of the bedroom and living room spaces on the second floor, where Missouri's first family lives.

Parson showed Taylor pictures of his family — including answering her questions about who they were and how old they were — and posed for a picture sitting on the steps of the Grand Staircase that goes from the main floor to the second floor.

At Central Dairy, Taylor also gave Parson a hand-made birthday card — the governor turned 63 on Monday.

After the Central Dairy visit, Taylor toured the governor's office in the Capitol, and Parson asked her permission to display the birthday card on his desk.

While sitting in the governor's chair at his desk in the large, oval office — where he often holds news conferences and special ceremonies — Taylor told Parson: "It doesn't look like an office.

"It looks like a Mansion."

When asked what she thought about the Mansion itself, Taylor said she liked it and wanted to live in it.

Mike said: "I've learned that she has a passion for learning and that she really, really enjoys just getting to know the mayors and their families and getting to know the cities — and she has a really, really strong memory."

Parson spent more than an hour of his day with Taylor and her family, and quipped: "It's a lot more fun than most of the stuff I get to do around here."

Then he told Taylor: "You are one of 'all those other things.' And how it's important to take a little time out to learn how important things are."

Parson asked her if she could help him make decisions.

She said, if she were governor, she wanted to make the state better by making sure all children had playgrounds with swings.

Taylor wondered why Missouri doesn't have an official state dog.

The governor told her: "Sometimes we try to name what the state dog is, but we haven't got that done, yet.

"Because everybody wants to name their own dog as the state dog."

Tergin gave Taylor a city coin and a note written on stationery with the city's seal on it.

Mike said he and Therese have learned that Taylor "is processing a lot as we go through this, (and) as she grows older, I think she'll really understand the impact that she's had."

He noted she already is asking questions such as, "Why aren't there as many female mayors as male mayors?"

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Taylor's father told reporters that, when asked what she wanted to be when she grows up, Taylor told her parents: "I have no idea."

When Parson asked what she needed to do to become governor, Taylor said: "First thing, you have to be on (the city) council, then mayor, then governor.

"And then I'm going to be president."

Parson told a reporter: "That's pretty simple. It's not going to take too long to get that done."

Taylor's mother said the family has no regrets about taking on the ice-cream-with-the-mayors project.

"This is a really cool thing for Tay to be doing right now," Therese said.