Friday, March 9, 2012

Reidsville welder throws hat in ring for county commissioner ...

Eric Smith

Credit: Submitted photo

Republican candidate Eric Smith is in the running for one of three open seats on the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners.

You may have seen him on stage in a theatre production, heard him play in the Community Band or even remember him from his run in 2008 for state superintendent of public instruction. He’s back in local politics on the Republican ticket for a chance to serve as county commissioner.

Eric Smith currently works at Amos Welding in Downtown Reidsville and is very active in the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County. He said his first love is politics.

“I enjoy being behind the scenes and I’ve worked on a couple of campaigns before,” he said. “I had been asked to run by some people in the community and I said no, but it was apparent after filing started that someone was going to have to step up.”

Smith said the current makeup on the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners makes for many split votes on issues. He said Commissioners Keith “Zero” Mabe and Craig Travis could use some help.

“I get along well with both of them, so I know being elected would help the chemistry of the board,” he said. “We need to get things done. Many times, those 3-2 votes will swing either way and it creates a lot of deadlock in this county.”

Going along with the typical conservative principles of cutting spending and taxes, Smith said he will look to apply those principles to Rockingham County.

“When they hear me say it, they will know that I mean it,” Smith said. “I don’t mind saying no – there comes a time when you have to say no.”

When politicians get elected, Smith said they sometimes have a problem saying “no” to people asking a local government for funding. He said, “When someone comes to government and asks them for something, they’re saying ‘Government, I want you to go steal from that person and give it to me’…I think that’s wrong.”

Smith said even at the local government level, leaders should go back to the government our founding fathers intended it to be.

“Our founding fathers were very clear and specific on what government’s role was when they set up our republic – it was a very limited role,” he said.

Limited government will improve economics, according to Smith. He said many problems with businesses stem from overregulation.

Smith described several businesses in Downtown Reidsville that encountered problems in opening stemming from local ordinances.

“The restaurant across the street struggled trying to get their doors open because of minute things in the county’s ordinances – ‘Oh you can’t do this, or you can’t do that,’” he said. “They’re very successful over there now, but there’s a lot of people who would’ve thrown their hands up and walked out. I would be interested to know how many small businesses have not opened because of the government control and restrictions placed on them.”

It’s important to provide a business-friendly environment by reducing some of the restrictions for small businesses instead of promoting economic development with incentives, Smith said.

“Small businesses are the ones who hire people,” he said. “People talk about these big contracts with these big companies, and I’m glad those big companies are here, but the small businesses hire the most people.”

Smith said county commissioners can use some of their time to promote infrastructure like the U.S. Highway 220/68 Corridor and the I-73 Corridor to entice companies to relocate in Rockingham County.

When it comes to qualifications for being a county commissioner, Smith said he’s just like the major population of Rockingham County and he knows how to represent them well.

“I’m a dad, a family man and I have to run a household budget,” he said. “I’ve owned a small business, so I understand about keeping books and making decisions. I’ve been in management for most of my working life, and I’m a blue collar man – I don’t wear a suit and tie to work. I’m part of the backbone of this community, and I will represent the people in a way they want to be represented.”

Smith ran in 2006 for a seat on the Rockingham County Board of Education, and he ran again in 2008 for superintendent of public instruction, earning an endorsement from U.S. presidential candidate Ron Paul.

He was chairman of the Darryl Clements for Congress campaign in Texas in 2000 and was the GOP nominee for local office in Hayes County, Texas, before returning to Rockingham County in 2002.


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