The youngest mayor in Indiana was barely old enough to have a celebratory toast when he was elected. After all, he was 23. Republican Chris McBarnes hails from the small city of Frankfort. He has been in office for about a year now, and the town is thriving under his leadership.
McBarnes Inspires Younger Generations
Right after graduating from Butler University Chris McBarnes had quite a job interview – a mayoral campaign in his hometown of Frankfort.
“I always wanted to be a doctor growing up. I wanted to have that white coat on. I wanted to help people in their greatest moment of need,” he says.
Frankfort which is about an hour northwest of Indianapolis has a population of just more than 16,000. McBarnes earned 75 percent of the vote in 2011 and by all accounts the youngest mayor serving anywhere in Indiana.
It seems there is no one better to motivate young people to vote than McBarnes. On a recent Friday, he visited a group of second-graders at Blue Ridge Primary Elementary School.
Although this group is not old enough to vote, McBarnes says they are at a perfect age to begin learning about citizenship. He says he hopes to bring residents to the polls by engaging them in what’s going on in their community.
“I tell them to get informed, read the newspaper, talk to their friends about what’s going on in the local level, state level, national level, watch the news at night and form your own opinions,” he says.
McBarnes says that is what made this country great. It is not the government, it is the people. McBarnes holds strong the values of the Republican Party, but says he wants to be remembered as a leader in public policy, not as a politician.
Age Doesn’t Matter
Age does not seem to matter in Frankfort, residents such as Donnie Albitz embrace their young mayor.
“It’s about time we get some youth in here, cause most of us are getting aged and we’re living back 60 years ago,” he says. “You can’t do that, you gotta live today and that makes a difference.”
In just a year, he has added flower baskets downtown, spurred economic development and helped start plans for a Frankfort Ivy Tech campus.
McBarnes is up for re-election in 2015. But for now he says he is at complete peace with what he is doing.
“Whether it will be going onto state, federal level politics, maybe owning a small business right here in Frankfort,” he says.
Or, he says, maybe even going back to medical school and throwing that white coat on.