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At 19, mayor-elect's the pride of Muskogee

By Julie Bisbee Modified: May 15, 2008 at 12:51 am •  Published: May 15, 2008
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MUSKOGEE — John Tyler Hammons may have already performed his grandest feat as mayor, even before taking office.

He put Muskogee in the national spotlight.

Hammons, 19, beat his 70-year-old opponent in a runoff election Tuesday, getting nearly 70 percent of the vote.

Hammons, who just completed his first year at the University of Oklahoma, spent Wednesday fielding questions from national news networks and producers of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

"Everybody has the same question,” said Hammons, who will be a delegate to the Republican National Convention in the fall. "‘Why would you do this at 19?' I think they're fair questions. A lot of people are asking if I think I can do this. Of course I think I can do this, or I wouldn't have run. The voters think I can do this. It's amazing what some people think you don't know.”

Even though he hasn't taken office yet, Hammons was sitting in the mayor's office Wednesday, getting used to the feel of leading the city of about 40,000 people, 50 miles southeast of Tulsa.

Open and transparent
He's polished, stays on message and isn't fazed by tough questions about the future of Muskogee or pending labor talks with the firefighters union.

Hammons defeated former Mayor Hershel McBride in Tuesday's runoff.

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Muskogee's mayor-elect, John Tyler Hammons, is shown Wednesday outside the Muskogee Municipal Building. He's bringing national attention to the city. BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN

What's next?
•John Tyler Hammons will be sworn in as Muskogee's mayor on Monday.

•His first city council meeting is Tuesday.

•Hammons, a political science major, said he plans to transfer from the University of Oklahoma to the Muskogee branch campus of Northeastern Oklahoma State University.

•"It's a little overwhelming, but I think once the media attention dies down we can get to doing the people's work,” Hammons said. "There is a lot of bad blood throughout the city, but I think by me winning by a large margin we can start to accomplish things.”

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