Arkansas' Jaylen Smith Becomes Youngest Black Mayor in U.S. at Age 18

18-year-old Jaylen Smith will be Earle's next mayor. He celebrated the win via Facebook on Tuesday, saying it's "time to build a better chapter" for the town.

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Jaylen Smith has made U.S. history.

The 18-year-old became the nation’s youngest Black mayor Tuesday night, after winning a runoff election in Earle, Arkansas—a small town with a population of under 2,000 residents. According to FOX 13 Memphis, Smith received 218 votes while his opponent, Nemi Matthews Sr., raked in 139. The victory is especially notable as Matthews has more than 40 years of public service experience, working as the superintendent of Earle as well as a lieutenant in its police department.

Days before the election, Matthews told local outlets he fully supported Smith’s run and would assist him in any way possible.

“No animosity, anything, far as me and Jaylen are concerned,” Matthews said. “Everything has been cordial. If I can help him do anything, I’ll do it, and likewise with him.”

According to his Facebook page, Smith—who graduated from high school in May 2022—has taken on various leadership roles throughout his middle and high school years, including student body president.  

Smith announced the win via Facebook on Tuesday night, when he also reiterated his commitment to the community and expressed gratitude toward all his supporters.

“Citizens of Earle, Arkansas, it’s official!! I am your newly elected Mayor of Earle, Arkansas,” he wrote. “‘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 ran on a platform of improving public safety and transportation, tearing down abandoned houses, as well as bringing a grocery store to town. 

“You’re never too young to want to make a difference in your community,” he told Local 12 earlier this month, before reiterating his commitment to Earle’s citizens. “I’m a strategizer, you know. Things don’t work, I go another way.”

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