I am Oak Smith, Democratic candidate for county commissioner from the 3rd District. I have been discussing my reasons for running for county commissioner with many people over the past few months. Most have agreed with me that 16 years is just too long for one person to hold the office. Rotation brings in new ideas and new ways of looking at problems. The infusion of new ideas is good for our county and good for our government. Incumbents argue that their “contacts” are invaluable and that they are irreplaceable. That is the argument of the status quo. George Washington was perhaps the most irreplaceable politician in our country’s history, and yet we survived when he chose not to run for a third term. In fact we grew as a society and as a democracy because of that selfless act.
I do, however, believe that experience in other aspects of county government and in community activities does help prepare someone for serving as a county commissioner. I served nearly 11 years on the county planning commission which has given me insight into many of the issues faced by county government. I have also served on the county board of adjustments and the Norwood Library Board. My work experience in the Wilkinson Public Library has allowed me to meet and visit with hundreds of county residents.
My opponent has written that he does not consider the position of county commissioner a job or a career, but his way of performing community service. Folks, the position of county commissioner is not a volunteer position. Commissioners are paid a salary to educate themselves on county issues and to make what can be difficult decisions. When I hire someone to do a job I want them to think of it as a job. If you hire me to be one of your commissioners, I will consider it a job. I will make sure I am available in the county commissioner’s office for you to reach me when you need me. I will work diligently on your behalf.
In my view, a commissioner has the responsibility to listen attentively to constituent views, and if a decision is made contrary to constituent views, to explain thoroughly the reasons for that decision. Residents who bring concerns to the county commissioners should feel confident their opinions will be taken seriously and given appropriate weight in the final decision making. I pledge to you that is how I will perform if you elect me as your commissioner. Thank you.