High Schooler Elected Mayor in Michigan
Pete Mowry/Hillsdale Daily News/AP
American politics can still favor the underdog, as resoundingly proved by Hillsdale, Mich., high-school senior Michael Sessions.
The 18-year-old, after having lost last year's race to be elected to his school council, won another post this week: that of mayor of his hometown (population: 8,026, according to 2004 figures). Unofficial results show that Sessions got 732 votes, compared with 668 for Mayor Doug Ingles, 51. Once his victory is certified, he'll be sworn in during a ceremony set for Nov. 21.
"I just thought I'd give it a shot," Sessions, told the Detroit News after giving the boot to Ingles, the incumbent who owns a local roller-skating rink and served his town for the past four years.
"I hoped I'd win. But I didn't really know what would happen," says the teen, who was too young to register for the election at the time of the filing deadline, so he relied on being written in. He also says that he joined the race because he was tired of hearing complaints that city government was stale because the same old leaders kept being re-elected.
Sessions's win apparently has turned his staid town, which is south of Ann
Arbor, upside down. So many TV interviewers showed up at his school that he had to be yanked from class.
"I guess that's all the political obstacles you could really have in an election – being 18, running against an incumbent and running as a write-in," Sessions's father, Scott Sessions, told the News.
While New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly spent upwards of $70 million on his campaign to be re-elected this week, Sessions's budget was a mere $700, which he mostly earned selling caramel apples over the summer. Friends went door to door on his behalf, and Sessions pressed a lot of hands of prospective voters.
"They'd look at me and say 'How old are you again? How much experience do you have?' And I say 'I'm still in high school,'" says Sessions.
His age and inexperience didn't scare off the city's firefighters union, however. It threw its entire support behind him – even though there are only
three members of that department.
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