CAMP HILL, Ala. (WTVM) - A 21-year-old Auburn University student, who was recently named mayor of Camp Hill, said he is now ready to enact change in his hometown.
A once bustling railroad town in Tallapoosa County, Camp Hill now holds empty storefronts and grass and weeds growing where successful shops and restaurants once sat.
But now at the age of 21, a newly-elected mayor hopes to breathe new life into the town.
“A spirit that’s unafraid, that’s really what’s true about Camp Hill,” Mayor-elect Messiah Williams-Cole, said. “We go through challenges, we go through trials in life, and we never give up.”
Williams-Cole, an Auburn University senior and Camp Hill native, said issues in town-- deteriorating buildings, residents without running water, and budget issues--sparked his decision to run for mayor.
“I really want to emphasize we’re going to create a winning culture here where we expect to win,” he said. “Camp Hill is open for business and collaboration.”
The first election and runoff election are behind him. Williams-Cole defeated incumbent Mayor Ezell Smith and the results are official.
“It’s a relief,” Williams-Cole said.
Juanice Cole is not only the newly elected mayor’s mom, she is his campaign manager, cook, cheerleader and prayer warrior. She said she’s confident in her son’s abilities and knows he’ll exceed the expectations of those in the area.
“If Messiah continues to be Messiah and just his normal self, it won’t be hard,” she said. “Because you’ll see him silently, you’ll see him doing things going full speed ahead, and it will get done like anything else.”
Williams-Cole said his age is an advantage and a way to inspire younger people but still support older generations.
“They’re expecting this out of us,” he said. “They want to see the change in us. They want to see the initiative through us to continue on some of the great things they’ve done and improve upon some of the mistakes that they’ve learned as they’ve gotten older.”
Williams-Cole said he’s the youngest ever mayor in Camp Hill. He’s set to take office Nov. 2.