Jaylen Smith Makes His Mark as the Youngest Mayor in U.S. History

By Maci England and Katelyn Allen on Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Jaylen Smith
Jaylen wants young residents in Arkansas to pour back into their communities.

Jaylen Smith
Job title: Mayor of Earle, Arkansas
Age: 19 | Higher Education: Arkansas State University Mid-South

Elected to office when he was just 18 years old, Jaylen Smith is making history as the youngest mayor currently serving in the United States and the youngest Black mayor ever. 

Jaylen was born and raised in Earle and wanted more for his community. It was common for young people to leave the city and never return, but Jaylen wanted to stay and do his part to better his hometown and inspire others his age to do the same. 

“I had grown tired of students graduating and never returning to pour into the city,” Jaylen said.

"Never let anyone tell you what you are not able to do or accomplish."

Jaylen’s road to becoming mayor was not without difficulties. Some residents were skeptical about what the high school student could do being so young, but Jaylen’s passion for his city and desire to improve it won over voters. 

“The steps that I took to get to be mayor were faith, hard work and dedication,” Jaylen said. 

As mayor, Jaylen is proving that young people can (and will) make a difference. He plans to bring up the city by adding affordable homes, a grocery store and more activities for the youth. 

“The most rewarding aspect of being mayor is helping the community be the best that it can be and helping people,” Jaylen said. “Another rewarding part of the job is having the youth look at me as an inspiration that they can be anything that they want to be no matter the age.” 

Jaylen’s day-to-day activities include meetings, finding resources to improve the city and ensuring his staff has everything they need to do their job. 

“I still go out some days to talk with the citizens and listen to their needs,” Jaylen said. “I also go out in the field and assist workers.” 

Jaylen encourages students to look for ways to make a difference in their communities—no matter their age. 

“Never let anyone tell you what you are not able to do or accomplish,” Jaylen said.

Jaylen Smith
As the youngest mayor in U.S. history, Jaylen is determined to put his hometown on the map.

Degrees to Make a Difference

  • Political Science
  • Law
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology or History
  • Public Relations or Journalism

Start Making an Impact Now

► Run or volunteer for student government. An easy way to practice campaigning and making a difference.

► Attend town hall, school board and city council meetings. Show you care about your community and weigh in. Make valuable connections by talking with elected members.

► Take an interest in elections. The next time a major election is happening, learn all you can. Learn about the candidates. What would their election mean for your family or community? And if you’re 18 or older, vote!

► Job shadow local leaders. Call your mayor or state legislators and ask if you can shadow them. Gain a behind-the-scenes look at the government and the people making it happen.