Earle, Ark., Elects Jaylen Smith, 18, The Youngest Ever Black U.S. Mayor

A recent high school graduate who still lives with his parents, ran on a progressive platform.

While the nation’s focus is on the victory in Georgia by Sen. Raphael Warnock, the small town of Earle, Ark., made its own political mark on Tuesday (Dec. 6) by electing the youngest Black mayor in the country’s history, Little Rock station KTHV reported.

Jaylen Smith, 18, beat Nemi Matthews Sr., in a runoff election Tuesday (Dec. 6). Smith received 218 votes to Matthews’ 139.

“Citizens of Earle, Arkansas, it’s official!! I am your newly elected Mayor of Earle, Arkansas…” Smith wrote in a Facebook post. “’It’s Time to Build a Better Chapter of Earle, Arkansas.’ I would like to thank all my supporters for stepping up getting people to the polls. I am truly grateful for you all.”

Smith graduated from Earle High School, where he held several leadership positions including president of his school’s student government association, just this year. He ran on a progressive platform and a new vision for his hometown, which is about 28 miles from Memphis and has a population of just under 2,000.

“First, I want to improve public safety here,” Smith told KTHV. “Secondly, tear down abandoned houses, bring transportation here for the community, bring a grocery store here.”

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Matthews, Earle’s street superintendent for 30 years and a lieutenant in the city’s police department, told local station WKRC ahead of the election that he’s friends with Smith and that their families have known each other for years.

"No animosity, anything, for as me and Jaylen are concerned," he said. "Everything has been cordial. If I can help him do anything, I'll do it, and likewise with him."

Despite his youth and lack of political experience at this level, Smith said he is ready for the responsibility.

“You’re never too young to want to make a difference in your community,” he said.

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