Photo: GETTY
  /  12.07.2022

Jaylen Smith graduated high school in May 2022, and he’s now employed. At only 18 years old, his new job will be to serve as the mayor of his hometown, Earle, Arkansas, making him the youngest Black mayor in America. 

Smith went to Facebook to announce his victory in a post. “It’s Time To Build A Better Chapter of Earle, Arkansas,” said the newly elected mayor.

Tuesday (Dec. 6) night, Smith defeated Nemi Matthews Sr., 59, in a runoff election. The teenager finished with 218 votes compared to Matthews’ 139.

In an interview with FOX 13 last month, Smith, who recently graduated from Earle High School and still lives at home with his mother, talked about the goals he wants to accomplish as mayor. 

“First, I want to improve public safety here,” he said. “Secondly, tear down abandoned houses… transportation here for the community and bring a grocery store here.”

He added that he will continue his bachelor’s degree online at ASU Mid-South in Memphis, but will make the city his main priority. 

Being young with no political experience doesn’t bother the Arkansas native. He compared his newly elected position to being a new hire at any job. 

“You know when you first get a job somewhere,” he said. “You never know what you’re getting into. At any age, you can do what you want.”

Smith said he’s very active in the community. He’s hosted citywide cleanups, water giveaways and food drives.

His opponent, Matthews Sr., congratulated the young politician on becoming Earle’s next mayor. “If I can help him, I would and likewise with him,” said Matthews.

Matthews has more than 40 years of experience working for Earle. He currently serves as a lieutenant in the city’s police department and has worked as a street superintendent for 30 years.

Earle is a small Arkansas town with a population of just under 2,000 people and is located about 30 miles northwest of Memphis.


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