An eighteen-year-old college student in the state of Arkansas has reportedly become the youngest black mayor to be elected in the US.
Jaylen Smith just graduated from high school in May. On Tuesday, he was voted in to lead the rural town of Earle, thirty miles (48 kilometers) west of Memphis, Tennessee.
Earle is a city in Crittenden County, Arkansas, United States. As per the 2020 census, the population was 1,831.
He shared the news on social media, saying “It’s time to build a better chapter of Earle, Arkansas.”
“I have what it takes as a firstcomer,” Smith told Action News 5 in August. “I want to get a lot done at this amount of time. I want to do what it takes to better the city of Earle, Arkansas.”
The vote result was 235 to 185, according to a tally from the Crittenden County Clerks Office.
Youngest black mayor has an ambitious agenda
The new mayor ran on a platform of improving the police force, repairing the city’s drainage system, addressing abandoned houses, and improving community involvement.
As mayor, he also plans to bring a major grocery store to the community, as the only one in town closed years ago.
While in high school, he served as president of the school’s student government association and had leadership roles in school clubs.
“You have to start somewhere—you really do,” he told the Washington Post. “I didn’t want to be 30 or 40 and become a mayor when I could be one right now.”
Smith plans to continue his studies at Arkansas State University Mid-South as he juggles his mayoral duties and hopes to someday become a prosecutor.
In 2005, eighteen-year-old Michael Sessions won a race and became mayor of the town of Hillsdale, Michigan before he had even completed high school.
At the time, his school principal was quoted as saying, “I told him that if he wins, he’ll still need to finish his homework. I’d hate to have to suspend a city official.”