PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The teenager elected mayor of his small Oregon city plans to be a steward for the budget and a proponent for growth.
Voters in Yoncalla last week elected Ben Simons, 18, to be mayor of the city about 44 miles (71 kilometers) south of Eugene, the Oregonian reported.
Simons beat out two other candidates with 41 percent of the vote and will take office Jan. 1. He is optimistic that he can make a difference when it comes to growth.
"So far, that hasn't been happening as good as I believe it should be," he said. "In two years, I think I can get this town headed down the right path."
Simons experienced success and public service before the election. He was Yoncalla High School Class of 2018 valedictorian and was twice elected class president.
Months before the election Tuesday, he was appointed to the Yoncalla City Council after another member resigned for health reasons.
Simons was just visiting City Hall and the mother of a close friend told him about the city council opening.
"It just ended up being one of those things where I got in there, she mentioned it to me, and I said, 'Let's do it,'" he said. He took office in September.
He's also a volunteer firefighter and a student at Umpqua Community College. He plans to eventually transfer to the University of Oregon. He wants to major in business and possibly start his own business.
His experience and familiarity helped get him get elected mayor, he said. He has lived in Yoncalla all his life and people know his politics.
"I think people here have been looking for something a little bit different," he said. "People in Yoncalla know me. And they've known me my entire life."
He hopes he will inspire other young people to get involved in local politics.
"You can be involved in government no matter what your age is," Simons said. "If you feel like you're qualified, you should apply and see how it goes."
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