Mayor Michael Sessions, Age 18

Michael Sessions, who just turned 18, has been elected mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan.

‘Go-getter,’ 18, ousts mayor in Michigan (AP)

Michael Sessions is too young to drink champagne legally, but the 18-year-old high school senior has reason to celebrate: He unofficially won a race for mayor Tuesday by defeating the baby boomer incumbent. Sessions, who turned 18 on Sept. 22, ran as a write-in candidate because he was too young to get on the ballot in the spring. The young politician used $700 from a summer job to fund his door-to-door campaign in Hillsdale, Mich., a town of about 9,000.

Unofficial results show that Sessions got 732 votes, compared with 668 for Mayor Doug Ingles, 51. Once his victory is certified and he’s sworn in – the ceremony is set for Nov. 21 – he may be the youngest mayor in the USA. The U.S. Conference of Mayors lacks the data to determine whether he’ll be the youngest mayor ever, says spokeswoman Elena Temple.

At least two other teens have been elected as mayors in recent years, but they were a tad older and represented much smaller towns. Jeffrey Dunkel was one month shy of 19 when he was sworn in as mayor of tiny Mount Carbon, Pa., in January 2002, and Chris Portman was 19 at his inauguration in Mercer, Pa., the same month.

“I’ve always been interested in politics,” says Sessions, who registered to vote the day after his birthday and became a write-in candidate one day later. “It’s certainly hard to be a write-in candidate,” he says, adding that he drove around town Tuesday afternoon, nervous that people didn’t know his name. He says many voters told him they wanted “new energy,” but he was still caught off-guard by the support he received. “He was a real go-getter during his campaign,” says Steven Brower, a government and economics teacher at Hillsdale High School. “He acted like he was running for president.”

I’m skeptical of an 18-year-old’s ability to run a city, even a relatively small one. Still, a remarkable achievement.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. RA says:

    They must have really hated the older guy.

  2. Anderson says:

    With a 14% voting turnout (neglecting other candidates), the good folk of Hillsdale probably wouldn’t much care if a chimp were mayor.

    Pretty cool accomplishment nonetheless.

  3. Carl Everett says:

    Damn liberals!

  4. rick says:

    Congratulations to Michael Sessions! It’s an outstanding achievement and I hope he’s allowed to run with it. Anything can happen in this country, in spite of the nay-sayers. That young man’s got moxie! If he wants to do the job, let him! Some new energy may be just what that city needs!

  5. Missy says:

    Congratulations Michael! I have every confidence that you are very interested in bringing about positive changes in our city, regardless of your age. You seem to care a lot more than those who currently serve. Good Luck to you!

  6. michael yang says:

    i just read michael sessions’ election in a report in our local “south china metropolitan daily”. i think most chinese who ever read it might feel a little strange, which might not appear so strange to americans. we feel strange and it’s because we have a different governmental system, and mayors could be very illustrous, powerful, renowned, political, and elderly. he (seldom she) usually has to brave a long way before he can become one.
    and, by the way, how come that monthly salary for a maoyer could be only 250 dollars. in china, the profits could be so many times more.

  7. HAROLD GULLI says:

    Dear Michael Sessions, I hope you hear peoples older than you when you get involved on important decisions to solve problems that even an adult can not achieve. No matter how many they are, but just take your time to hear them. Congratulations!!! Being an open mind mayor is the key to success, and dont stop as a Mayor. This Nation needs young blood and brave peoples.

  8. dee says:

    i think its great and I think this is the time for people to join together and be involved in the running of there town. Open mind, open hearts and grace of god as there guidance and they shouldnt go wronge. I too live in a medium/lil town and my son has thought of running as he feels he couldnt do any worse, he is 23 yrs old. My hats off to you folks and gods blessings.

  9. agustin says:

    hello Michael Sessions Congratulations for your victory

    good by and good luck to you

  10. Jeff Washburn says:

    I can’t help but question the ability of a high school student to be the top administrator in a city, but I respect Michaels ambition and wish him the best luck in his political career. Maybe we’ll see him on the Presidential ballot in 17 years.:-)

  11. Emma says:

    I do believe that you have done it, great job Michael.Now they want to re-vote, i think that is foolish you have worked hard and earned it.

  12. Mary Aseltyne says:

    Young men and women, age 18-24, are the most under-represented block of voters in our nation. Politicians do not listen to them and do not care about their needs because they know that the kids won’t vote. That is why they are the least likely to have easy access to things like education and health care. If young people organized themselves into a voting block, they would have free education, transportation, and health care–like Seniors do.

    Plus, ALL politics is local. The cop who tosses the kids out of the park after dark is following the laws of the city or town, not the laws in Washington DC. If young people voted as a block in their local elections, they would have well-lit parks to hang out in after dark.