Salter, a political science major at Barton College, where he is student body president, has filed as a candidate for Wilson mayor. Bruce Rose, who has presided over the town since 1992, is the only other candidate for the office, although filing remains open until Friday.
"This isn't a joke," said Salter, 20, who is the youngest person ever to run for Wilson mayor. "This is not something I decided on a whim or on some fluke. I've put some serious time into this."
Originally from the small coastal town of Atlantic, he said he wants to lead Wilson as it tries to move away from a tobacco and textiles economy. He said he believes growing up in the computer age makes him the right man for the job.
"We are not training people the way they need to be trained to learn in the 21st century," he said.
Rose, who was first elected mayor when Salter was in kindergarten, said he has the experience to continue leading Wilson.
"I think I know what's going on. I think I know our system, and I think I know what to do to move Wilson ahead," he said. "Wilson's growing. We've got a lot of things going, and you need a lot of time to do a good job."
Still, Rose said he isn't taking his competition lightly. In fact, he said he respects Salter's ambition.
"I will take him seriously, and I will do whatever it takes fro me to win," he said. "I admire him for stepping out like this and taking a part. I wish more people would get into the political arena."
Salter turns 21 at the end of July to meet the local requirement that a mayor must be at least 21. He said he is focused on the city for now, but he wouldn't rule out runs at larger political offices in the future.
"I think the political leaders of America are going to need to wake up, and it's going to take some young people to do it," he said.