Eighth-Grader Brian Zimmerman Is a Pint-Size Pol and An Elected Mayor in the State of Texas

updated 02/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

It all started innocently enough. A few townsfolk in Crabb, Texas were shooting the breeze at Gonyo's Grocery when someone asked who was mayor of this rural stopover of 225 souls, 27 miles south of downtown Houston. It turned out there wasn't one, so they decided to hold an election.

There were three candidates, two of whom were senior citizens, but the winner, with 23 of the 30 votes cast (only 35 residents were eligible to vote), was a dark foal candidate who campaigned by bicycle. At 13, Brian Zimmerman is the youngest mayor in the land. He is also the basis for a TV movie airing on PBS Feb. 10. Called The Lone Star Kid, the fictionalized account stars James Earl Jones and Charlie Daniels.

Actually, Zimmerman, whose parents own and operate Crabb's sole bar, is prohibited by Texas state law from holding public office because he's under 18. Since Crabb is not incorporated as a town, it isn't entitled to have a mayor anyway, so the whole thing is a bit of a put-on. Curiously, though, if Brian fulfills one of his campaign promises he'll soon be out of a job, unpaid and unofficial though it may be.

It seems the mandate of the people has a price, and the issue is incorporation. In the shadow of Houston's sprawl and nearby Richmond's expansion, Crabb is in danger of annexation. "If we don't incorporate," maintains the mini-mayor, "it's only a matter of time." The precocious politician has already forced the issue to a vote once, but homeowners in a nearby subdivision called Tara, spooked by the prospect of city taxes, overwhelmingly defeated the incorporation plan. Now, in the not-so-smoke-filled room that Hizzoner calls his office and which doubles as his bedroom, the wily public servant is sketching new "city" limits, gerrymandering Tara out of town and thus out of the voting.

If his latest plan succeeds, Brian will rejoin the ranks of unemployed boys with better things to do than buttonholing judges and politicians for free advice, traveling to Corpus Christi, Texas and to Paris, France for mayors' conferences and appearing on the Donahue show and Today. Says Judge Jodie Stavinoha of Fort Bend County, who has borne the brunt of Brian's inquisitiveness, "He's a very impressive young fellow. But he's still a boy. He'll talk like a man for a while, then he wants to go look for tadpoles."

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