A small city in Arkansas has just sworn in the youngest active mayor in the United States. At just 18 years old, Jaylen Smith, a freshman in college at Arkansas University Mid- South is now the Mayor of Earle, a small city in the state of Arkansas. On December 6th, 2022, Jaylen won a runoff election against his opponent finishing with 235 votes to 185. His opponent had served as the city's superintendent for the past 30 years. There have been 2 other 18-year-olds to be elected as mayor in American history, however, Jaylen is the youngest Black American to be elected as mayor.
With the support of his twin brother, family, and even the principal of his high school, he began campaigning in January 2022. After being involved in the student government body at school since 7th grade and seeing how much of an impact his role as student body president and the senior class president had on the students and the surrounding community, he decided that he would pursue a career in politics. He stated in an interview that, the City of Earle has so much potential and he wanted to be a part of reviving the city and making it a place where people could be proud to be from and want to come back to. Even though he is only 18, he knows that he has a lot to learn when it comes to leading a city. Before being elected, he decided to shadow mayors in other cities near Earle to see what it was like to be a mayor and what his daily duties and responsibilities would be. He was able to gain a lot of support and mentors that offered him advice and counseling.
Earle, Arkansas is a very small city with less than 2000 residents, but the city is behind in the basic needs of its citizens. Jaylen campaigned on the strength of improving public safety by ensuring a 24-hour police department, bringing a grocery store within city limits, beautifying the city by removing or renovating some of the abandoned properties, increasing public transportation, and improving community involvement. He gained the support of the younger generation of voters by pledging to provide them with opportunities in the city like jobs, activities, and things to do that would improve their quality of life.
In January, Jaylen was officially sworn in to office with a ceremony further cementing his accomplishment in the history books. During his short time as mayor he has already held up some of his campaign promises. On his official instagram page, he has been promoting his partnerships with several community organizations to assist with citywide cleanups and prep classes for young people interested in barbering. He has also had the opportunity to meet with some of the biggest politicians and leaders of America, including the family of Dr. Martin Luther King, former President Bill Clinton, and current President and Vice President of the United States Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Everyday, we are watching the youth change the world. Like the old saying goes, "The kids are the future." Over the next four years, it will be interesting to see the progress and growth that Jaylen makes as a man and as the mayor of Earle. Follow Mayor Jaylen Smith on Instagram to follow his accomplishments and work in the city.