18-year-old aims to ‘prove them wrong’ after election as youngest Black mayor in US

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 6:10 PM CST
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EARLE, Ark. (WMC) - Earle, Arkansas, has a new mayor, and he’s fresh out of high school.

“Amazing, unbelievable, breaking barriers and obstacles it’s just amazing, " Jaylen Smith, Earle Arkansas mayor said.

Overwhelmed with emotion. Jaylen Smith is the youngest Black mayor in the nation. Yet, he said his win didn’t come as a surprise.

“I did,” Smith said. “I did expect this to be the outcome because throughout my campaign. I was always told to outwork my opponents,”

He outscored his opponent, winning the election 218 to 139. A small community is now gaining national attention.

“A lot of people get to see it like congressmen, celebrities, the president probably saw it already,” Smith said. “So, it’s just amazing you know getting all these interviews and speaking with different people about my why and purpose.”

His top priorities include beautifying the city, housing, improving public safety - starting with a 24/7 police department, plus bringing a grocery store in town, which the city currently lacks.

All that, Smith knows, won’t be an easy task.

“I’m a little nervous but throughout my high school time I’ve been preparing,” Smith said. “I’m a go-getter so whatever the city needs I’m going to get it.”

Four months ago, Smith said Action News 5 was the first to travel to Earle, Arkansas, to speak with him.

In August, he was fresh out of high school; now, his first job has won him the title of mayor.

“It’s not going to take just me making the city better,” Smith said. “It’s going to take the city council, and the people to work together as a team collaboratively to move our city forward.”

He said he’s not worried about those who believe he might be too young for the position.

“I use that as motivation for me, to prove them wrong,” Smith said.

Smith turns 19 in January. He said he wants to be president one day but right now his focus is on his new role as mayor while going to school online.

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