Council says goodbye to Smith

WINNSBORO – Billy Smith is going out like Ted Williams.

Since his election four years ago, the departing Fairfield County Council chairman has set a new standard for Fairfield County government from bringing parliamentary procedures to meetings to getting things done. Smith, his council and administration have challenged a major utility over a failed nuclear plant, successfully fought for the repurposing of the crumbling Mt. Zion Institute for administrative offices, helped broker major economic deals, including one this week that promises to create 250 jobs, brought state of the art emergency health care to the county brought civility and efficiency to county council meetings – no mean feat.

Councilwoman Bertha Goins thanks Council Chairman Billy Smith for his service. | Michael Smith

Not bad for a 28-year-old.

Elected at age 24, Smith is moving to Louisiana where his wife has accepted a position with LSU. Smith announced in June that he wasn’t seeking re-election. He officially steps down Dec. 31.

“Being on council has been a very challenging and humbling experience,” he said. “But most of all it’s been self-rewarding, both internally and externally. It’s given me experiences that I never thought that I would have had.

“I hope in the next few years I’ll be able to see the progress that’s been built on the foundation the county laid, and see the positive benefits from that,” Smith continued.

Council members honored Smith at Monday night’s council meeting, his last as chairman.

They presented him with an award honoring his service and held a reception following the meeting. Councilman Dan Ruff, who is also stepping off council, was honored as well.

Bertha Goins, vice-chairman of the council, said Smith was, “an excellent team leader” who led by example.

“You’re a tough, young man and you need to stay that way,” Goins said. “You’ve had concern and compassion for the team and for the public as well. May God bless you and continually open doors for you.”

Ten people signed up to speak during the first public input session, and two more in the second session. Several took time to thank Smith for his service.

One woman, who fought tears from the podium, said Smith has developed into “such a fine young man,” saying he always kept residents in mind.

Fairfield County resident Kathy Faulk, a spokeswoman with the Hoof & Paw Benevolent Society, has worked closely with Smith over the past several months on a new animal control ordinance, which passed third reading Monday night.

“Thank you to Mr. Smith for your service and your hard work. You will be missed, and we wish you well in this next phase of your life,” she said.

Representing District 7, Smith was elected to County Council in 2014. He was elected chairman two years later, making him one of the youngest – if not the youngest – council chairs in the state.

But don’t mistake his youth for inexperience.

Smith possesses a deep understanding of the issues, allowing him to confront difficult political topics, from the failed V.C. Summer nuclear plant to the school district’s proposed Teacher Village.

Smith scored several political victories over the past several months.

He successfully lobbied to repurpose the Mt. Zion building into a new county administration building.

Under his leadership, the county is on the verge of finalizing a major economic development deal with Healthcare US Co. Lt., which has announced plans this week to expand operations into the old Mack Truck building, creating 250 jobs and investing $45 million.

Smith’s preparedness allowed him to run fluid, efficient meetings, in which he breezes through agenda items like an auctioneer. He said his style helped bring consistency and order to meetings in which complex topics are often up for debate.

“When you make up rules as you go along, you unfortunately apply those rules differently as well,” Smith said. “I wanted to get away from that. I wanted to get everyone on the same page and have them understand what the rules are. The goal of a meeting is to conduct the business of the county.”

As for the future, Smith doesn’t know if he’ll seek public office again after making the move to Louisiana, though he didn’t rule anything out.

“I saw an opportunity to help the place (Winnsboro) I call home, then help it improve, and I took that opportunity,” Smith said.

Comments

  1. Esther Baughman says

    Billy – we are just counting on you to “do your time in Louisiana,” and then come on back to Fairfield County to do more good here. You have been a blessing to all of us, we still need you, and will always welcome you back. I am a prime example of Thomas Wolfe being WRONG ‘ “You can GO HOME AGAIN” and Winnsboro will always be home to you – it gets in your bones, and never leaves your heart!!

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