With a successful election campaign now in the rear-view mirror, Smith will spending the next three and a half months preparing himself for his new job managing the county as chairman of the Board of Commissioners.
Smith, in his first attempt at political office, forced a runoff with incumbent Bill Chappell in the July 31 Republican primary, then easily won in August. He’ll take office in January, and when he does, the county budget will be waiting for him.
Smith believes the county is in good shape fiscally, but said more constraints will be needed, while continuing to try to build the existing equity.
“Come January, we’ll be meeting and trying to get a grasp on the budget,” he said. “Right now, cash is king in anything you do, whether it’s business, financial development. We’ve got to tighten the belt, we’ve got to continue to build our equity because we don’t know what’s coming down the pike the next three or four years.”
Smith said some of the “tough times” still lie ahead, but he noted the county is in sound financial shape, and gave his election opponent some credit for that.
“We’ve got money in the bank,” he said. “Bill Chappell did a good job, and that’s because of that millage increase, and that’s OK. But we’ve got money in the bank and a lot of folks can’t take office and say there’s money in the bank … so I’m glad of that. We’re fiscally sound, now it’s a matter of finding where we can tighten things down.”
Smith promised during the campaign that all aspects of the county government would be evaluated. He plans on meeting early on with not only all departments heads, but with other employees as well. He said the loss of employees in recent years is a concern.
“We’ll be looking at those issues, meeting with individual employees as well as department heads and asking, ‘what’s going on in your department, what do you need?’
“I think on a day-to-day basis we’ll buy time to know that things are going to get better. Now how do we know that things are going to get better? By communicating and helping each department in some areas.”
As for the district commissioners, getting them more involved as elected officials is part of Smith’s philosophy on leading the county government. It’s Smith’s belief that you don’t “run” a county as big and diverse as Carroll is. Rather, he said, you “manage” it.
“My goal going in is getting the people involved, and that’s the board. That’s my priority, more than anything, is getting the board more involved on a daily basis,” he said.
“I’ve talked with every board member and everyone seems to be excited. I want them to be more active. I told them I want them to be ready to go to work. I want them to be ready to answer questions. I don’t like a lot of unknowns. I don’t like surprises. I want to be able to work with them and let them work with their constituents and let them know what’s going on.”
Smith believes his background in business and his involvement in community work over the years has prepared him to be the face of the county. He has, he acknowledged, a good bit of “chamber of commerce” personality that will allow him to be a good salesman for the county, particularly in business development. He considers representing the county government in public one of the requirements of the job and is confident he has the “people skills” that will make him successful at it.
“It’s important for that person to be visible,” he said. “You can’t be everything to everybody, but you live here in this county and you are seven days a week on the job with things going on and you want to be in the public eye and as you see people you want to take their knowledge and input.”
That falls into his concept of team-building — what he calls bringing local people to volunteer.
“Knowledge-wise, business-wise. It’s not about Marty’s agendas and Marty’s alliances, it’s about pulling people together as a team, building a team, and now is the best time ever to have a team that wants to play together.”
Smith, 49, has lived in Carroll County since his family moved here when he was a month old. He is a graduate of Carrollton High School and graduated from West Georgia College in 1987 with a degree in business management. He spent eight years in insurance, and the last 20 years in his family’s commercial development business.
He has been involved with the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce; he is a member and former president of the Carrollton High Athletic Booster Club; and is a Carrollton School System Foundation Board. He is a member of First Baptist Church in Carrollton where he is a deacon and Sunday school teacher.
His wife Pam is a fifth grade teacher at Carrollton Middle School. They have three children: 17-year-old Taylor; Andy, 13; and Sydney, 9.