In Dog-Eat-Dog Contest, The ‘Heart’ Wins Out in Whittier Election

The Election results are in, and the heart beat the bell by a nose.

That’s right, this year the heart dog tag has prevailed in the fifth installment of voting by fifth graders at area elementary schools – with Whittier School fifth graders last Thursday choosing for the first time in the program’s existence.

In a landslide, the ‘heart’ shaped tag prevailed over the ‘bell’ shaped tag.

In what was probably a record for local politics, neither of the political candidates gave any speeches.

Run by City Clerk Michael Mattarazzo, each year the Clerk’s Office prepares official ballots and brings an official voting machine to one elementary school so that the fifth graders can choose the shape of the tags.

“Every year we are able to choose which dog tags we want for the next year,” he said. “We used to just choose randomly and have them made. Then I saw that they had a similar program to this in another community and I thought it was a good idea. We’ve been doing it for five years now, but this is the first time at the Whittier.”

Principal Dave Brady said it was a bit of excitement for the kids and a great lesson on how to vote and the importance of civic engagement.

More than 100 fifth graders cast votes in the Library at the Whittier last Thursday morning, but prior to that they listened to Council President Fred Capone and State Rep. Joe McGonagle speak about the City and State electoral process.

“It is a very good learning experience for the kids and it makes it fun for them to do it with the real ballots and the real voting machine, especially so close to the City Election,” he said.

Previous choices have included a doghouse, a bone, the bell and the heart. The fire hydrant, however, has been the toughest sell over the years to the young voters.

“It took four years for that one to win, and it still barely won,” Mattarazzo said. “As one young man told me, ‘If you were a dog, would you want to wear a bathroom around your neck?’ I guess that pretty much summed up the will of the voters.”

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