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The View from the Valley

An Exploration into Town-Gown Relations


College Student, 19, Elected Mayor of Oklahoma City

I’ve written before on Safeguard Old State about students who, “doing the unexpected,” can become leaders in their communities even as undergraduates. Gavin Keirans even scored a front page story in The Daily Collegian earlier this year for his thoughts on the subject. Today, a friend of Safeguard Old State e-mailed me another story of a college student becoming mayor, but this time, the kid has become the mayor of an Oklahoma City of 38,000.

College Student, 19, Elected Mayor of Oklahoma City of 38,000 (AP) May 14, 2008 — A 19-year-old first-year student at the University of Oklahoma was elected mayor Tuesday of Muskogee, a city of 38,000 in the northeastern part of the state.

With all precincts reporting, John Tyler Hammons won with 70 percent of the vote over former Mayor Hershel Ray McBride, said Muskogee County Election Board Secretary Bill Bull.

“The public placing their trust in me is the greatest, humbling and most awesome experience I’ve ever had in my life,” said Hammons, who is from Muskogee but attends the university in Norman.

The two candidates squared off in a runoff election for the nonpartisan post after neither secured 50 percent of the vote in a six-person election April 1.

The mayor leads the nine-member city council and serves as a voting member. Hammons said a key to his platform that resonated with voters was openness of government and keeping citizens better informed of city operations.

“I think that’s been a detriment to the trust of the citizens of Muskogee,” he said. “Once we have that trust, we can solve any other problem.”

This story makes it clear that Muskogee and State College are not identical, for certain, but it continues to reinforce the point that college students are capable to lead. After all, if the average age of admission to Princeton at the time of the American Revolution was 13, then certainly 19 year olds can do their part to lead in thier communities, if they can earn the public’s trust.

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