High School Senior Elected Mayor of Mich. Town

ByABC News via logo
November 9, 2005, 4:19 PM

Nov. 9, 2005 — -- Earlier this year, Michael Sessions lost his bid for student body vice president at Hillsdale High School, but the high school senior has made quite a comeback.

Today he is the mayor-elect of Hillsdale, Mich.

"I ran because I thought I could bring a difference to the city of Hillsdale," Sessions told ABC News.

Sessions successfully mounted a rare write-in campaign for the office of mayor, narrowly defeating the 51-year-old incumbent, Douglas Ingles, on Tuesday. Sessions (whose name could not be included on the regular ballot because he had not turned 18 by the May filing deadline) ran his campaign using the $700 he made from his summer job, according to The Associated Press.

Sessions won the election 732-668, according to unofficial results published by the Hillsdale Daily News. About 1,400 of the town's 8,400 residents voted. He will be sworn in as mayor on Nov. 21, but his first official meeting as mayor will be at a community goals strategy session on Nov. 14.

Sessions lives with his parents, Scott and Lorri, and his younger sister. He is a manager of several athletic teams at Hillsdale High and is interested in chess, according to school officials.

"We never thought this would happen," Hillsdale City Manager Tim Vagle told ABC News. "Now we will see what we need to do to make this work. [Sessions] missed a planning commission meeting this morning. I assume it is because he had school."

Dan Skiendziel, 39, met Sessions at a friend's house on Sunday. Based on the brief interaction, he decided to cast his vote for the teen candidate.

"We need some change," Skiendziel said. "It's [Hillsdale] a small town that needs some change in the mayor's office."

The Hillsdale fire department agrees. The department, which has three full-time employees and 23 volunteer members, voted to endorse Sessions at its meeting on Nov. 2, according to firefighter Bruce Sharp.

"We liked what we heard from him and as members we all voted to endorse him," Sharp said. "His promise was he would do his best to get the fourth guy on the squad. He's an 18-year-old high school senior. Who knows? He's got a fight on his hands."

Skiendziel described the position of mayor as "more ceremonial."

Part of Session's responsibilities will include running the city council meetings and making city-wide commission appointments. "I think I can bring about fresh ideas, fresh blood," Sessions told a local television station.

Mayor Ingles declined to comment.