18-Year-Old Elected Mayor of Michigan Town Voters in the Michigan town of Hillsdale have elected 18-year-old Michael Sessions to be their next mayor. Madeleine Brand speaks with Sessions, who had to face the 51-year-old incumbent in a write-in campaign because he was too young to qualify for the ballot last spring.

18-Year-Old Elected Mayor of Michigan Town

18-Year-Old Elected Mayor of Michigan Town

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Voters in the Michigan town of Hillsdale have elected 18-year-old Michael Sessions to be their next mayor. Madeleine Brand speaks with Sessions, who had to face the 51-year-old incumbent in a write-in campaign because he was too young to qualify for the ballot last spring.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Well, here's a post-election result that you won't hear Democrats or Republicans trying to spin in their favor. The winner in the mayoral race in Hillsdale, Michigan, is 18-year-old write-in candidate Michael Sessions. He defeated the incumbent 51-year-old Doug Ingles, and Michael Sessions is on the phone with me now.

First of all, Mr. Mayor-Elect, welcome and congratulations.

Mayor-elect MICHAEL SESSIONS (Hillsdale, Michigan): Thank you. Thank you.

BRAND: How does it feel right now to be the mayor-elect of Hillsdale?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Well, I'm running around the house right now. I'm leaving on a plane here in a few seconds.

BRAND: Oh, right. I understand you're going to be on the "David Letterman" show tonight?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Right, yeah.

BRAND: So you won this race. You received 732 votes in a town of 9,000?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: No, the corrected results came back together; 670 to 668.

BRAND: I'm sorry, you won by two votes?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Yes.

BRAND: That's extraordinary.

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: It is.

BRAND: So what was your campaign strategy?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: I got a huge endorsement by the fire department, which just got the whole campaign going.

BRAND: And why did they endorse you?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: The city government doesn't have very great relations with the public service in the town.

BRAND: And I understand you were a write-in candidate, so you had to get people to actually remember your name and write it in.

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Correct.

BRAND: How did you do that?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: I got yard signs that--you know, I had forums at public places.

BRAND: And you went door to door?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Correct.

BRAND: So what's your platform? What are you promising the residents?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Well, we've got to revitalize the economy, and we also have to--we also need to, you know, like I said, improve relationships with the public services. We have to make these people respect us once again.

BRAND: Well, with all due respect to you, you are still a high school senior, so...

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Right.

BRAND: ...how do you plan to go about doing that?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Just like any other part-time job that any other mayor would have. The current mayor owns a business in town. And from 7:50 to 2:30, I'll be a student. From 3 to 6, I'll be the mayor of Hillsdale, working on mayor stuff.

BRAND: Mayor stuff. I assume most of the city employees are older than you are?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Right.

BRAND: So how are you going to go about winning their respect?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: I'll just show them respect. That's what I've always done.

BRAND: Why did you want to become mayor of Hillsdale?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Well, I thought every race has run unopposed here in the city, and I thought I could make a difference.

BRAND: And did you think you'd actually win?

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: I was optimistic the whole time.

BRAND: Mayor-elect Michael Sessions, the 18-year-old mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan, thank you for joining us.

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Thank you.

BRAND: Good luck.

Mayor-elect SESSIONS: Thank you.

BRAND: NPR's DAY TO DAY continues. I'm Madeleine Brand.

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