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7 Teenagers Who Were Elected Mayor

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You might have to be 35 to run for president, but you can become mayor of a town much, much sooner. Qualifications for the job vary depending on the size of the city and its need, but some ambitious teenagers have stepped up in recent decades and, thanks to local elections, been voted into office. While their peers were worrying about things like homecoming dances and football games, these kids were attending local board meetings and planning for their constituents' future. Here's a look at seven of the youngest mayors in United States history.

1. Michael Sessions

Sessions used a whopping $700 war chest he saved from a summer job to fund his campaign for Hillsdale, Michigan, mayor in 2005. Since he was too young to qualify for the election, a write-in candidacy was his only option. And it paid off. It didn't come easy, either, as the election was a real nailbiter, but Sessions prevailed. One voter just listed "the 18-year-old running for mayor" on his ballot, a vote that the local officials determined should rightfully go to Sessions. "I've always been interested in politics," Sessions, then 18, told USA Today. He only served one term, though, stepping aside in 2009.

2. Jeremy Minnier

The small town of Aredale, Iowa (population: 74) chose Jeremy Minnier, 18, as its newest mayor in 2011.

Politics might just be in Jeremy's blood -- his father, Richard, also served as Aredale mayor. On Jeremy's list of priorities: adding flowers to the downtown area, fixing the city septic system, and finding better sources for water. During his reign, Minnier has tried to beautify the town to make it more attractive to visitors. Still, Jeremy said that he'll walk away from public office sometime: “I don’t have a lot of interest in becoming a big politician." He does, however, plan to continue to live nearby; Iowa will always be his first love, he said.

3. Jason Nastke

In 1999, Nastke earned his spot governing over Valatie, New York, after demonstrating stellar leadership qualities at an area high school. He was a representative in his class government, a member of the honor society, and was studying business finance at a local community college. The mayoral position was unmanned, so Nastke figured why not give it a go. He served for four years, then left politics to go into real estate, operating his own business. Yet he found his way back to local elections in 2010, when Nastke was appointed Columbia County Election Commissioner. In that capacity, he policed for voter fraud and other rule-breaking. Even with the new position, he made sure to tell a reporter that he has "no interest in running for office again.”

4. Sam Juhl

Juhl was elected into Roland, Iowa, office at 18 years of age in 2005, and reelected two years later. He opted not to seek a third term. Juhl said that he ran after it appeared that nobody else wanted the mayoral position; Juhl already had dreams of filling public office someday, but the vacancy only sped his plans along. "While experience is valuable, it's not always necessary," he told NPR in 2008. "I mean, the fact that I'm younger doesn't mean that I might not have a new perspective to offer to something."

5. Christopher Seeley

He has one of the coolest titles in his Twitter description of any recent college grad: "Mayor." But when Seeley had a head-on collision with adversity, it wasn't a result of his inexperienced 18 years of age in 2005; it was all in the name of the job. As mayor of Linesville, Pennsylvania, he knew he'd run into opposition. He resigned briefly in 2010, citing “hostility” from the borough government, saying that the town “is being run more in an almost military fashion as opposed to how good open government should be run.” Somehow Seeley survived the upheaval, and remains in power to this day.

6. Kyle Corbin

Union, Oregon, got an 18-year-old leader in 2006 when Corbin was elected local mayor. Tired of seeing his city councilors and previous mayors bickering and then ultimately resigning, Corbin decided to throw his hat into the ring. "There was even an incident where somebody threw a punch at a City Council meeting," Corbin said. His write-in campaign was built around the subject of unity, and he hoped to foster a new era in Union politics. Alas, his local fame was short-lived as Corbin decided not to seek a second term. His legacy, however, lives on among locals.

7. Jeff Dunkel

Of all the 18-year-olds who got elected to office, Dunkel may have had the most success. In charge of Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania, he's served with distinction since 2001. His story all began inside an American government class, where Dunkel began to seriously think about his town's 100 residents. Frustrated by the inefficiency he recognized at local council meetings, Dunkel wanted to see some change. To get there, though, Dunkel needed permission from his mother to miss out on some of his chores. "I know he's been so busy with his campaign," she said, "so if things didn't get done right away I wasn't busting on him." Now it's his constituents who are knocking on his door.

See Also: This guy.

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Why America Has So Many Empty Parking Spaces
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When you’re driving around looking for a spot to park on tight downtown streets, you’re probably not cursing city planners for mandating too much parking space. (You’re probably thinking the opposite.) But while some areas, depending on the time of day, are inundated with more cars than spaces, for the most part Americans lead lives of parking privilege, surrounded by empty spaces they don’t need to use. By one estimate, there are eight parking spots for every car in the U.S. (Others say it's more like three, which is still a lot considering that number doesn't take into account home parking.)

Why does the U.S. have so much extra parking? A new video explainer from Vox (spotted by Arch Daily) has the answer. It’s because laws mandate it.

In the video, Will Chilton and Paul Mackie of the transportation research initiative Mobility Lab explain the rise of the parking meter, which was invented in the 1930s, and the regulations that soon followed, called mandatory parking minimums. These city laws require that those building an apartment complex or shopping center or store have to provide a minimum number of spaces in off-street parking for customers to use. The cost of providing this service is carried by building developers—giving the city a free way to get new parking without having to manage their street parking situation closely. Go to any suburb in America, and the parking lots you leave your car in are probably the result of these parking minimum rules.

The ease of parking in America isn’t a good thing—though it may feel like it when you slide into an open spot right in front of the grocery store. Experts have been calling for an end to zoning laws like these for years, arguing that excess parking encourages unnecessary driving (why take the bus or carpool if it’s easy to drive yourself and park for free?) while simultaneously making it harder to walk around a city, since parking takes up a ton of land that’s difficult to traverse on foot, interrupting the urban fabric.

These parking minimum regulations take very specific forms by building type, including number of spaces required per hole at a golf course, per gallons of water in a public pool, and per beds in a nursing home. Before you cheer for free, plentiful parking, let the experts at Vox explain just why this is a problem for cities:

[h/t Arch Daily]

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A Microsoft Font Might Have Revealed Political Corruption in Pakistan
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Note to wrongdoers: Check your fonts. Right now in Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family are in legal hot water over what might be falsified government disclosures, according to Slate. The proof? The typeface used in the documents, as the investigative report submitted to Pakistan's Supreme Court notes.

Calibri, the sans-serif typeface that serves as the default for Microsoft applications, was designed in the early 2000s. But it didn't become widely available to the public until Microsoft Vista and its accompanying Office update were released in 2007.

This is where things have gotten tricky for the prime minister. His daughter may have fabricated documents that would show that she and her family had made the proper official disclosures on their finances. The documents, which were supposedly signed in 2006, were written with Calibri—a year before it was released to the public.

Defense lawyers argue, of course, that Maryam Nawaz Sharif could have just had access to Calibri before Windows Vista came out, since it was designed before 2007. The typeface's designer, Lucas de Groot, has said that the very first release he was aware of came out in 2006 as part of beta testing for the Vista operating system. But based on the sheer size of the files involved in such a beta product, it would have required "serious effort to get," a representative for LucasFonts told the Pakistani news outlet Dawn. And that would have been a super early test version, since the first public beta didn't come out until June 2006, four months after the documents were supposedly signed. Unless she was a huge computer nerd, Maryam probably didn't have access to Calibri back in early 2006, indicating the documents were faked. 

Whether you're turning in a term paper or falsifying legal documents, you're always better off going with Times New Roman.

[h/t Slate]


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