Teen Mayor Talks Politics, Roommate

On May 12, John Tyler Hammons was elected mayor of Muskogee, Okla.

ByABC News
May 14, 2008, 3:16 PM

May 15, 2008 — -- College freshman John Tyler Hammons will soon trade in his seat in front of his video games for one in front of the Muskogee, Okla., city council when he's sworn in as mayor next week.

"Apart from this passion I have for government, I'm pretty normal," said 19-year-old Hammons, who told ABCNews.com that he's "excited" about his victory in the election Tuesday. "I'm probably super normal."

Hammons, who is majoring in political science at the University of Oklahoma until he transfers somewhere closer to Muskogee, won the election with 70 percent of the vote, according to the city's election board.

He will lead the nine-person city council as mayor.

Hammons is undeniably a young public official, but he's actually not the youngest: The mayor of Hillsdale, Mich., Michael Sessions, had just turned 18 when he was elected in 2007.

Sessions had some advice for Hammons, urging him to "listen carefully" and "take notes" while he's in office.

"[Hammons] is going to be looked at as the outsider and the kid, in some respects, but he he's got to take them on," Sessions told ABCNews.com. "When [the older guys] make stupid comments, he's got to refute them."

Hammons is also confident that his age won't hurt him during his time in office.

"The only thing I have going against me is that I've never [been mayor] before," Hammons said. "But that's true, even if you're 50."

Hammons said one of his chief concerns going into his mayoral term is the city's crime problem.

"Public safety is something we're trying to ensure," Hammons said, though he added that crime in Muskogee "isn't horrible."

Another of the mayor-elect's goals is to promote greater acceptance of diversity within the city of 38,000.

"Muskogee is a very diverse place, it's a great picture of America," said Hammons, who hopes to travel outside the United States sometime soon. "We have to break down the barriers, and I think, with my victory, we can do that."