The city of Earle, located in Arkansas, elected Jaylen Smith as mayor in Tuesday night’s runoff. This makes him the youngest Black mayor in the country at just 18 years old. According to election results, Smith managed to receive 218 votes while his opponent, Nemi Matthews Sr., obtained 139 votes.
Smith quickly went to Facebook to celebrate his victory:
“Citizens of Earle, Arkansas, it’s official!! I am your newly elected Mayor of Earle, Arkansas… ‘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, who just graduated from high school, told Cincinnati’s WKRC about his plans to make transportation and public safety better. Earle has a population of about 2,000 people. He also wants to tear down houses that have been abandoned and build a grocery store.
“You’re never too young to want to make a difference in your community,” Smith stated. His opponent, Nemi Matthews Sr., is the street superintendent of Earle. In addition, Matthews served as lieutenant for Earle’s police department. In total, he had worked for the City of Earle for more than four decades.
Just days before Tuesday’s election, Matthews explained to WKRC the bond he and Smith share, stating that they are friends and that their families have been friends for a while.
“No animosity, anything, far as me and Jaylen are concerned,” he commented. “Everything has been cordial. If I can help him do anything, I’ll do it, and likewise with him.”
Smith’s fiery resolve played a crucial role in his win. “When somebody tells me ‘no,’ I don’t stop just because someone tells me ‘no’,” he has said in past interviews. “There’s always someone waiting to tell you ‘yes.’”