Seven-year-old Jessica Maladecki knows how to get an ambitious political agenda through a body of grizzled lawmakers, and a family of ducks is safer for her skills.
When the Westland, Michigan, girl saw a mama duck padding across a busy neighborhood road with her babies in tow, she wondered why there wasn't a sign warning drivers to slow down for the bird brood. She turned her concern into action, stowing a petition in the handlebar basket of her purple bike and going door-to-door, getting neighbors along Koppernick Road to lend their names to her effort.
She showed up at a City Council meeting and took the podium to make her case armed with four pages of signatures, and stood atop a metal folding chair to stare down the lawmakers from a podium.
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"Hi, my name is Jessica," she said. "Could you put a duck crossing sign up on Koppernick Road?"
Even though Jessica is 11 years shy of voting age, the elected officials nonetheless quacked under pressure. A yellow sign was in place within days.
“She really brought a lot of positive energy to that council meeting," said Mayor William Wild.
Duane Maladecki said he's happy his daughter's burgeoning political skills paid off.
"The council members were obviously all excited," he said. Everybody clapped for her, which was fantastic. She did a great thing for the ducks."
Jessica says the sign she helped bring about has drivers slowing down, and she no longer worries about the fate of the feathered family.
“I see the mom on the side of the road with her babies and I feel like they’re gonna just cross,” she said.