Meet the mayor
Eighteen-year-old Kenny Brewer loves his job as mayor of Los Molinos
He’s older than Brian Zimmerman was when he became mayor of the tiny, unincorporated community of Crabb, Texas, in 1983 at age 11, but Kenny Brewer is certainly one of the youngest people in the United States ever to hold the position of mayor.
Brewer—who turned 18 this past December—recently joined the elite group of 18-year-olds who have become mayors of U.S. towns, a list that includes Sam Juhl, who became mayor of Roland, Iowa, after running unopposed in 2005, and Kyle Corbin, who was elected mayor of Union, Ore., in 2006 as a write-in candidate.
Brewer became the youngest mayor ever of the unincorporated Tehama County community of Los Molinos in July after coming in first in a two-month-long campaign against five other candidates to see who could raise the most money for the town’s yearly Independence Day Parade and Play Day. As part of the decades-old annual tradition, Brewer took his inaugural ride at the head of this year’s Fourth of July parade.
Taking time out of a busy schedule that includes attending classes at Redding’s Shasta College (where the young hog farmer is on a scholarship from the Tehama County Farm Bureau in his quest to become an agricultural lawyer) and working as weekend manager of popular Los Molinos burger joint The Burger Shack, Brewer sat down for a half-hour interview in a Chico café on his way to Butte College to keep stats for a volleyball game.
“It’s an honorary position,” said the amiable Brewer calmly, in response to the suggestion that some have made about his mayorship being simply a joke.
The June graduate of Los Molinos High School, whose winning fundraising amounted to $2,200, was quick to point out that being chosen mayor based on raising the most money makes for “an honest race. We actually say that right at the beginning: We buy our seat.”
Brewer rounded up his big bucks by holding a softball tournament, a car wash and a spaghetti dinner; by hosting a $2 shake day at The Burger Shack during which he sold 150 “hand-scooped” shakes; and by selling T-shirts reading “Vote Kenny Brewer for Honorary Mayor of Los Molinos.”
“I couldn’t have done it without my mom,” Brewer said of his candidacy. “Running a softball tournament by yourself is hard, and she helped in every aspect of it.
“I did it to help the town,” Brewer added. “It’s a huge fundraiser event and I’ve seen it every year. And I’ve always wanted to do it. Just seeing everyone run for mayor—it’s exciting.”
As for his mayoral duties for the upcoming year, “I’m still trying to figure it out,” he said. “[Los Molinos mayors] don’t have specific duties—it’s what the mayor wants to make out of it.”
Brewer, who works closely with the Los Molinos Chamber of Commerce, has determined so far that his first chosen duty as mayor would be to declare Oct. 29—the date of Los Molinos High’s homecoming game—“Purple and Gold Day” for the whole town.
“We’ve never done anything like that before,” said the lifelong Los Molinos resident. “We want to get the whole town involved—have people wear purple and gold [the school’s colors], and have businesses decorate in honor of the day.”
As for future plans, “I don’t know yet. We have a whole year to do it. We’ll make the best of it. … I want to do my [mayoral] duties, go to school, work and just have fun while doing it.”
Has his life changed since becoming mayor?
“I have a lot of people coming up to me going, ‘Hi, Mr. Mayor, how are you?’ The public recognizes me more, I guess.”
If anyone needs to speak to the mayor, “You can find me at The Burger Shack on weekends, and then I’ll be at the Nu-Way Market down the road [where he will soon begin work as a cashier]. If people really need to find me, they do.”
Has he gotten any complaints so far?
“Yes. They do it jokingly,” he answered. “I answer, ‘Look what I’m doing in the town—the Caltrans [road improvement] project has finally started.’”
When asked if he had anything to do with that, he replied, smiling, “No.”