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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September 4, 2012 - 8:23pm
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