At 18 years old, Jaylen Smith has become the youngest mayor in the history of the U.S., reports CNN.
On Tuesday, Smith, a freshman at Arkansas State University Mid-South was elected the Democratic mayor of the city of Earle, Arkansas, which has a population of 1,83. According to the the Crittenden County Clerk’s office, he defeated Nemi Matthews, the city’s current street and sanitation superintendent—235 votes to 185.
Smith said that he decided to run for mayor so that he could create change in the town that he loves.
“I didn’t run to make a name for myself,” Smith told CNN on Wednesday. “I ran because I wanted to help my community and move my community in the direction that it needed to be moved in.”
The significance of the historic moment was not lost on him.
“It feels awesome. Generations and generations of people will read about this historical moment,” he said.
Frank Scott Jr., the mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas, advised Smith throughout his campaign, and has pledged to support his administration in any way that he can.
“I’m excited for Jaylen and the entire community in Earle as he becomes the youngest-ever African American mayor elected in the country. I’m proud of his willingness to enter into public service at such a young age and his aspirational goals for the City,” said Scott, the president of the African American Mayors Association.
Smith, who graduated from Earle High School in May, was inspired to enter local politics after working in the student government association, which made him “passionate and determined” to make a difference in his city.
As mayor-elect, he plans to focus on public safety and transportation. He also wants to bring a major grocery store to the Earle.
“We had one a long time ago, but it closed,” Smith said. “Our seniors don’t have transportation to get to and from West Memphis to get food. So it would be better to have a grocery store here in town.”
In preparation for his new position, Smith has already met with several mayors across Arkansas. He said his ultimate goal is “to show the people of Earle results.”
He is slated to be sworn in during the first week of January 2023.