Like many American communities, Hillsdale, Michigan elected a new mayor on November 8. But Michael Sessions is getting a lot more attention than any of the nation's other new government officials.
In the days following the election, Michael Sessions appeared on nearly every news program in the United States and at least one late night talk show.
Why all the interest in the new mayor of a city with only 8,000 residents? It's his age. Mayor Sessions -- who is a high school senior -- just turned 18 on September 22.
He told NBC's Katie Couric, "I thought I could bring some energy to the city, so I thought, 'I want to run for mayor in the city of Hillsdale.'" That was in May, and, when he made inquiries, his interest in the job wasn't met with enthusiasm:
"[I had] my cousin call the city clerk's office to see: 'Can I run? Can I file a petition and run?'" Mr. Sessions says "The city clerk [said], 'No. You can't do it. You're 17 and you're not a registered voter yet.' So it comes around my birthday. First thing I go do: register to vote."
And when he received his voter registration card, the first thing he did was return to the city clerk's office to file a declaration to be a write-in candidate.
He funded his campaign against the incumbent mayor with the 700 dollars he had earned from a summer job, and won by only two votes. His goal, he says, is to revitalize the local economy. "We're a small city, but we've got plenty of room in our industrial park to grow. I want to try and help the city compete for jobs, and bring them to our city."
Mayor Sessions, who begins his new job on November 14 gets a $250 monthly stipend. But his vote on the City Council carries no more weight than the other eight members. Since there is no designated office for the mayor of Hillsdale, Michael Sessions says he will be working out of his bedroom in his parents' home, where he still lives.