Smith: ‘I won’t seek reelection’

Council chair ushered in meeting order, efficiency

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County Council Chairman Billy Smith told The Voice on Tuesday that he will not see re-election to his council seat representing District 7. His term ends Dec. 31.

Smith

“My wife has accepted an associate professor position at Louisiana State University, so we’ll be moving to Baton Rouge over the course of the next year. She’ll be moving a little bit earlier than me. I’ll finish out my term on Council and wrap up some other things here, and then I’ll move as well, after the first of the year,” Smith said.

Smith was, by at least 20 years, the youngest member of council when he was elected to represent District 7 in 2014, during a tumultuous government turnover that changed the council’s balance of power. In spite of his youth, Smith was soon elected chairman by his fellow council members and assumed a strong leadership role. Smith brought a new era to council, conducting orderly, efficient meetings with a strict adherence to parliamentary procedure.

“Rachel and I would have preferred staying in Fairfield, but we’re having to make the decision that’s best for us and our future. It’s a really good opportunity that we just can’t pass up. It’s one of those things in life that you don’t have much control over,” Smith said.

The couple was married last month following Rachel (Williamson) Smith’s spring graduation from the University of Georgia with a PhD in industrial-organizational psychology.

While Smith, who grew up in Fairfield County, said he is looking forward to the couple’s new adventure, he said he is disappointed to have to leave the work he and the council have been devoted to for the last three and a half years.

“Serving on council has been an extremely rewarding and humbling experience. I was elected at a time that I was able to really kind of dig in and help the county move forward,” Smith said. “We have a good, cooperative council now, and I think we’ve made a lot of big strides. A couple highlights of my time on council are that we managed to find and hire one of the best, most talented administrators in the state, and that we’ve helped to keep 24-hour emergency medical care in the county. Now we’re working, among other big things, toward keeping doctor’s care, primary care, local, and that’s important. We’ve made some good headway in economic development by setting a path for infrastructure improvements, so that the county can capture some of the projects as they come to the state,” Smith said.

Smith said he feels the county is on a firm footing right now.

“We’ve made great progress. The good news is that with a combination of citizens who care, council members who care and an administration that cares, we are doing the right things,” Smith said. “The county is on the right track, a positive track, and is headed in the right direction. Now we just need to keep it there and continue to invest in infrastructure, water and sewer, and our future. We should be successful if we do that, if we focus on the right priorities.”

County Administrator Jason Taylor said he and the staff that works closely with Smith will miss him greatly.

”Working with Chairman Smith has been a pleasure,” Taylor said. “He is smart, fair and has proven to be a decisive leader. I have always appreciated his approach to decision making. He makes every effort to make an informed decision, based on facts, while also taking into consideration what is best for all of our citizens. His tenure as chairman coincided with some of the most difficult days in the County’s history, but throughout the abandonment of reactors 2 & 3 at VC Summer, Chairman Smith stood strong, and never wavered in his commitment to doing everything he could to improve things for the citizens of Fairfield County. I am proud to have worked with him.”

Smith said he will continue to work hard on council until his term ends on Dec. 31.

“We’ve got some important work to do,” he said. “I’m not just going to sit back for the rest of my time here. No one who knows me, I’m sure, expects that I will become disengaged just because my tenure is ending. I’m not that type of person. I’m driven and I’m going to keep focused on what we have to do, to help set the table for Fairfield County’s future.”


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