He will be juggling his mayoral duties along with attending the Arkansas State University Mid-South.
We all have different aspirations after we graduate high school. Some want to get into an Ivy League, some want to pursue art, travel, and find the true meaning of their life. However, for this young man, it was different as he aspired to be a leader. Due to his hard work and perseverance, Jaylen Smith, a recent graduate of Earle High School, has just become the youngest black mayor in U.S. history. He beat his opponent, Nemi Matthews, by 235 votes to 185 in the small town of Earle, Arkansas.
He claimed that while he was "confident" he'd win the runoff election on Tuesday, he was nevertheless surprised to learn of his victory, reports TODAY. He added, "I felt so grateful! I had the craziest facial reaction when I won! It was such a blessing." Moreover, he credited his parents for supporting and helping him throughout his campaign. Smith chose to run for mayor at the beginning of his senior year after being encouraged by his fellow student government association members. He stated that he is fully aware of the historic importance of his victory.
He added, "It feels awesome. Generations and generations of people will read about this historical moment." Moreover, he told CNN that he did not run in this election for himself but "beacuse I wanted to help my community and move my community in the direction that it needed to be moved in."
Frank Scott Jr., the mayor of Little Rock and someone Smith sought assistance from as he prepared for the mayoralty, claimed Smith will be the nation's youngest Black mayor elected. He said, "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."
Despite his age, Smith has a clear vision of what he wants to see in Earle, and he understands that it will not happen tomorrow. He aims to rehabilitate the city by removing abandoned homes, making the police department operational 24 hours a day, creating jobs for young people, and implementing public transit to grocery shops. The city doesn't have any grocery stores which cuts off the residents' access to food resources. He said, "We had one a long time ago, but it closed. 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."
If you don’t know the name Jaylen Smith, you should. He’s 18 , just graduated high school, and will be the next mayor of Earle, Arkansas — making him the youngest-elected mayor in America. Gen Z-ers across the country aren’t just voting. They’re also running for & winning office.— Victor Shi (@Victorshi2020) December 7, 2022
It is delightful to see young people participating in politics and representing a new generation that wants change. Smith told Washington Post, "You have to start somewhere — you really do. I didn’t want to be 30 or 40 and become a mayor when I could be one right now."
Smith said he won people over on merit and as a proven leader. He served as president of Earle High School's student government for three years, during which time he negotiated a contract with a new cafeteria vendor. Smith intends to balance his duties as mayor with his studies at Arkansas State University Mid-South. He aspires to be a prosecutor one day.