An 18-year-old has just won the mayoral post in Hillsdale, Mich. and one in Roland, Iowa and Linesville, Penn. Two more have taken seats on the city council of Waterville Village, Ohio and Westbrook, Maine respectively. That youth and inexperience do not equal disinterest is not new in American politics.
But a heated recount pitting a 51-year-old incumbent against his 18-year-old presumed successor, that's new.
The votes in Hillsdale made official on Thursday had high school senior Michael Sessions besting his predecessor Douglas Ingles by just two votes. Mr. Ingles has until Wednesday of next week to ask for recounts. Something he told 'Countdown' he's not ruled out entirely, setting up the young Mr. Sessions for his very first political showdown.
Sessions who turned 18 in September, too young at that time to make the ballot, ran for mayor as a write-in candidate launching his campaign just a month ago with the money he made from summer job, $700, just a little bit behind what Mayor Bloomberg spent to be reelected in New York City -- $67 million.
Thursday evening, mayor elect Michael Sessions joined MSNBC's Keith Olbermann from New York, where he's already begun the big TV tour.
To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.
KEITH OLBERMANN: Well, Letterman tonight. Morning shows tomorrow is that right? Did you expect this kind of attention?
MICHAEL SESSIONS: No. No. It caught me off guard.
OLBERMANN: What do you do with this? This is a total change in your life, isn't it?
SESSIONS: Yeah. Hopefully these interviews just dwindle down a little bit as the weeks go on. I've heard some people say, 'well we want to come back for your swearing in.' So we'll have to wait and see.
OLBERMANN: Do it in secret or something. Between now and then though, what do you do if there's a recount? That's a way to start your tenure or your career in public service.
SESSIONS: Well, I'd have to accept to it ... nobody's really spoke to me about that yet. I have to see what -- I'll have to be advised as to what the whole situation so far.
OLBERMANN: What made you make this run? I'm sure you've been asked that question 114,000 times already. But why would you want to be mayor at age 18?
SESSION: ... I wish I had the ballot with me to show you. Every person on my ward ran unopposed. There were eight races in the City of Hillsdale, I believe, that was ran unopposed except for one spot in Ward Number Four which had a contest that went on. So I decided I really wanted to throw my name in the race on the ballot back when petitions were due on May 10. But I wasn't able to.
So I was speaking to the city clerk. I said, well, how I can run still? He says, well, you can be a write-in candidate when you turn 18. So I thought, well, I'm going to do that. I turned 18 in September. And a week later, I declared my intent to be a write-in candidate.
OLBERMANN: And according to this margin, you've won by two, 670-668.
SESSIONS: That's what I heard before I came here today.
OLBERMANN: So, now, obviously, 670 is a lot of people in a town of 8,200. But do you think of those two votes that made that put you over the top as the ones your mother and father cast for you?
SESSIONS: Most definitely. It had to have been.
OLBERMANN: What do you do as mayor? I mean, do you get to do anything self-indulgent or do you get to do anything goofy? If you were in a British city and elected mayor, they'd at least give you a goofy hat and robes to wear for ceremonial occasions. What does the mayor of Hillsdale do?
SESSIONS: He presides over the city council. We have a city manager slash city council government, city government in the City of Hillsdale. And like I said, you know, you preside over the city council. I think the role should be even more. I think the mayor should be out there, you know, communicating with people. He should be out there talking to the city employees. He should be out there, you know he's got to develop great relationships with the people of the City of Hillsdale.
OLBERMANN: Can you fit that in with your schedule with class and homework and all of those other things of senior year in high school?
SESSIONS: Oh, I believe so like I've said many a times, from 7:50 to 2:30 I'm a student from 3:00 to 6:00, I'm going to be out fulfilling this job as mayor. If it's not talking with people, it's meeting with the city manager or the director of public safety or the fire chief or the road workers. I'm going to make sure people see that I'm visible and I care about this town.
OLBERMANN: A status that you held throughout your political career. Michael Sessions, the mayor elect of Hillsdale, Mich. ... Like any good politician, you see he is already on an out of town fact-finding tour of New York. All the best, sir. Thanks for your time.
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