There are three things you should know about Timothy Ragland, the first Black man to be elected mayor of Talladega, Alabama.
Ragland beat the incumbent mayor, Jerry Cooper, by 24 votes in a runoff last month. He will graduate from law school in May 2020. And at 29 years old, Ragland is also the youngest mayor to ever serve the city of roughly 15,000 people, according to Huff Post.
One bonus thing: He served in the United States Army Reserve.
Ragland, a Democrat who will be sworn into office next week, says he plans to balance his busy schedule with “a lot of Red Bull and prayer,” Huff Post reported.
He said he ran for office to challenge the status quo.
“I was tired of seeing the status quo maintained. I saw a lot of the same issues that were present four years ago when the current mayor took office. Same roads not being paved, same buildings are vacant,” Ragland told Huff Post. “I decided that instead of being a person that’s going to complain about what’s going on, I decided I was going to do what I could to make a positive change in my community.”
As mayor, Ragland says he aims to enhance his city’s technology access, resolve ongoing city infrastructure issues, increase job opportunities for residents and implement measures to make the town’s schools better.
“It’s just humbling to know that people thought enough of me at my young age, and the ideas and plans I have for the city, to want to vote for me. I don’t take that lightly and I’m going to work for the citizens of Talladega every single day,” Ragland told Huff Post.
Ragland’s political experience includes working with the Alabama Democratic Party and the failed democratic gubernatorial campaign of Walt Maddox, who currently serves as mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Ragland also worked with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones and helped him to get elected in 2017.
Ragland said initially he wasn’t sure if he should run for office because of his age, but his pastor and church family encouraged him to step out on faith. He said none of it would be possible if not for the people who paved the way for him to even be able to run – like Edythe Sims and John Taylor, the first Black woman and man to serve on the town’s city council.
He also has some advice for others seeking to run for office.
“Make sure your heart is in the right place, have a plan, make sure you’re dedicated and above all else, put the people first,” Ragland told Huff Post. “At the end of the day, they’re your boss and they are the ones that put you there.”