Council elects 22-year-old as its youngest-ever mayor

A 22-year-old councillor will become one of the youngest-ever mayors in the country in 2017.

Friday, 22nd April 2016, 1:20 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd April 2016, 2:25 pm
Alex Harman SUS-140721-090802001

Alex Harman will take on the role of deputy mayor from May, before becoming mayor at the age of 23 after councillors elected him unopposed last week.

He will eclipse the record for the borough’s youngest – James Doyle in 2003 – by 15 years.

Mr Harman, councillor for Selden ward, said: “I am really pleased. All the work I have done up until now has been around youth engagement and getting as many young people involved in politics as possible. This will be a great platform.

“I think I am going to be the youngest in Worthing so taking that responsibility is definitely going to open a few eyes and turn a few heads.

Traditionally, the mayoralty has been held by older councillors, due to the significant time constraints of numerous public engagements.

But the council has seen a wave of younger members elected in recent years, while youth engagement has been driven by an active youth council.

On the role itself, Mr Harman said: “It is incredibly important. It is something which Worthing has had for over 100 years and we have had some really great mayors.

“They have done so much for the community by stepping into that mayoralty and engaging people.”

Northbrook councillor Sean McDonald will take over the chain of office from current mayor Michael Donin on May 20.

Mr McDonald joked he would feel like a grandfather with Mr Harman as his deputy but he welcomed the election, which took place at the full council meeting last Tuesday.

He said: “When Alex came forward I was delighted and I think it will be a great coup for Worthing – but I will feel like a grandfather.”

Leader Dan Humphreys said the vote would send out a ‘brilliant message’ to Worthing’s young residents.

He said: “In recent years the average age of councillors in Worthing has undertaken a significant change.

“We now have a number of younger councillors serving on Worthing Borough Council which has ensured a broad width of representation.

“The vote on Tuesday to elect the youngest councillor in Worthing to the position of deputy mayor sends out a brilliant message to the young people of Worthing, that they can and should take on roles in the community. This is a great story for Alex and Worthing.”

Mr Harman plans to take a sabbatical during his year as mayor in order to devote his full attention to the role.

Mr Donin, who was the town’s first Canadian mayor, is set to stand down after he completes his mayoral year, after deciding not to contest his Durrington seat in the local elections on May 5.

Worthing has a mayor because of its borough status, which it has held since 1890.