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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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Big Questions
Why Do So Many Rooms in the White House Have an Oval Shape?
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Why do so many White House rooms have an elliptical "oval" shape?

Taylor Griffin:

The Oval shape of rooms in the White House was chosen to accommodate a formal greeting ceremony known as a "levee." The ceremony has its roots in the royal courts of England and particularly France.

The White House Historical Association explains how it worked in America:

The levee, a tradition borrowed from the English court, was a formal occasion to allow men of prominence to meet the president. Replete with formal dress, silver buckles, and powdered hair, the event was a stiff public ceremony almost military in its starkness. Invited guests entered the room and walked over to the president standing before the fireplace and bowed as a presidential aide made a low announcement of their names. The visitor then stepped back to his place. After 15 minutes the doors were closed and the group would have assembled in a circle. The president would then walk around the circle, addressing each man by his name from memory with some pleasantry or studied remark of congratulation, which might have a political connotation. He bowed, but never shook hands. When he had rounded the circle, the president returned to his place before the mantel and stood until, at a signal from an aide, the guests went to him, one by one, bowed without saying anything, and left the room.

George Washington ordered the bowed walls that characterize the three oval-shaped rooms on the South side of the White House residence: the Diplomatic Reception Room, the Blue Oval room on the State Floor and the Yellow Oval Room on the third floor, expressly for the levee.

But the ceremony was only briefly used. The practice was not loved by John Adams, the White House’s first resident. While Adams accepted the reasoning behind the levee, an efficient way to grant wider access to the president in a manner consistent with his station, he didn't disguise his personal distaste for it. In a letter to his wife Abigail, Adams said simply:

"I hate levees …"

The levee was promptly abolished by Thomas Jefferson, who saw the ritualized grandeur of the ceremony as uncomfortably close to the trappings of monarchy from which the young nation had just fought a revolution to divorce itself. The oval shape nevertheless was reprised in the design of the iconic President’s office when the West Wing was built in 1909. The shape of the Oval Office serves no formal purpose except as a homage to the oval rooms of the White House residence, reinforcing the sense of awe for the power wielded within it.

This post originally appeared on Roughly Explained and Quora. Click here to view.

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That Time The U.S. Confirmed You Can Only Kill A Yeti In Self-Defense
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In the 1950s, yeti hunting was all the rage among explorers. In 1951, mountaineer Eric Shipton’s expedition to Mt. Everest brought back photos of a mysterious three-toed footprint; in 1954, the Daily Mail sent scientists and mountaineers on a 6-month “Snowman Expedition” to the Himalayas specifically to find the mysterious creature. None of their research was conclusive, but that didn't stop adventure-seekers from trying to find evidence of the yeti's existence.

The U.S. government took the time in 1959 to remind these zealots that if they found a yeti, they couldn't shoot it. Unless it was trying to kill them, of course.

In a state department memo dated December 10, 1959, government officials laid out the regulations that governed yeti hunting in Nepal.

First of all, it was not going to be free. Would-be trackers were ordered to get a permit from the Nepali government, paying 5000 rupees (adjusting for inflation, about $1100 today) for the privilege.

Furthermore, the Nepali government was entitled to any evidence the hunters found. Any photos taken or reports proving the animal’s existence had to be surrendered to the government, and if there was going to be a report “throwing light on the actual existence of the creature,” it couldn’t be given to the press until the government approved it. If the creature was captured, obviously, it would also have to be turned over to the state. Dead or alive.

A State Department memo from 1959 lists regulations for hunting Yeti.

And last, and most importantly, that “dead or alive” clause wasn’t permission to go around shooting mythical creatures. Yetis could only be killed or shot in self-defense. Finding the yeti was a scientific pursuit, not a trophy sport.

Why did the U.S. government care? According to the National Archives—which currently has the yeti memo on display—it was a diplomatic move. The Nepali government had issued the memo two years earlier, but when the U.S. translated it into English, it was signaling its support of Nepal’s sovereign rule. In doing so, the U.S. hoped Nepal—which neighbors China—would be friendly to Americans' desire to keep tabs on China's communist government.

“Although, at first glance, a memo about yeti-hunting seems fanciful, it is in fact representative of American Cold War strategies to combat what they saw as the rising threat of communism,” historian Sanjana Barr writes on the National Archives’ blog.


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