EARLE, Ark. (WREG) — A teenager will be the next mayor of Earle, Arkansas.
The people of Earle have spoken. The town of around 2,000 residents elected 18-year-old Jaylen Smith as mayor. He is now the youngest black mayor in the country.
He beat his opponent by just 52 votes.
“It feels good to say I have been elected mayor of this great city,” Smith said. “People say I am too young but you have to start somewhere in life. I didn’t want to wait until I was 30 or 40 to run for mayor I wanted to do it now.”
Smith said his top priorities as mayor include addressing abandoned buildings, flooding, and other problems.
“Earle has potential. I want to come back home, I want to feel safe and secure here. I want a grocery store,” he said.
Smith said he also made a promise to the younger generation that if they vote for him he will work to bring them more opportunities
“Getting them jobs, getting activities, just something because I’m like them, I want something to do as well,” he said.
The town’s next mayor still lives at home with his parents.
He just graduated from high school in May and was senior class president. He said it was at Earle High School that he realized he has what it takes to be a leader. His former principal Dexter Dumas agrees.
“I saw massive leadership ability and potential from start. I had no question in my mind that he would not be elected because of the drive that he has,” Dumas said.
His twin brother Jayden Smith and all of his family and supporters kept him focused during the race and say they will continue to do so once he is sworn in.
“Just because everybody knows you don’t mean they gonna vote for you so I told him you got to get up get out and campaign and whatever you need I am here to help,” Jayden said.
“All of those needed things that Earle needs, he is going to have a great impact on getting that done because he is going to have so much support,” said Carloss Guess, Jaylen’s godmother.
Smith said despite his age, he expects to be able to sit down with more seasoned members of the city council to get things done after he is sworn in as mayor in January.
“What the council have to realize is I am the mayor and secondly it has nothing to do with age. If you are for moving the city in the right direction, you will do what say you want to do,” he said.
Smith plans on taking next semester off from Arkansas State University Mid-South to focus on his new role as mayor.