Vice mayor at 19: Student mixes college, small-town politics

From Maryville College
At 19 years of age, Samuel Jackson already excels at college-level and small-town politics. The Maryville College sophomore leads his college community as class senator and his hometown community as vice mayor of Greenback. “It has been such a learning process,” said Jackson, who is, fittingly, majoring in political science.

Jackson began his political career in the summer of 2008, soon after graduating from Greenback High School. Greenback Mayor Thomas Peeler was aware of Jackson's interest in pursuing political science at an undergraduate level, so he contacted him about the opening of the vice mayor position, which Peeler thought would be good experience. 

Greenback's governing body appointed Jackson to finish the term of the last alderman who moved out of the city. Jackson quickly felt the tug of responsibility.
In November 2008, Jackson was elected alderman, and in March 2009, while he was midway through his second semester at the college, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen appointed him vice mayor. Jackson's term lasts four years, and he will be in office until 2012.

“I never thought I would be a vice mayor of a city, let alone a councilman at 18. It is an interesting ride because you are trying to please people you have known since birth,” said Jackson. “It's interesting to step up from being one of the native sons of Greenback to being one of the leaders of the city.”
Jackson often works on his mayoral responsibilities from his room on campus. He contacts Mayor Peeler every week, helps organize the city's priorities and decides what needs to be implemented. He makes the 15-minute commute to his hometown regularly, meeting monthly with fellow aldermen. The vice mayor took over some added responsibilities when the mayor suffered some minor health problems.

Regardless of his workload as vice mayor, the full-time student recognizes that school is also a priority for him. “It's all in moderation. Education is definitely first for me, but my job is right up there with it. To be a fair representative at Greenback, I can't spread myself too thin,” he explained.