Candidate: Charles B. Smith
Education: Palmetto High School; B.A. in Criminal Justice, University of Central Florida
Palmetto City Commissioner Charles Smith is looking to step up to the Manatee County Commission, challenging incumbent District 2 Commissioner Michael Gallen in the August Democratic primary. Smith pledges a more aggressive style that he says is needed to fully address the challenges of the urban district.
Smith was born in New York, but grew up in Palmetto, where he graduated from Palmetto High School. Afterward, he pursued a degree in criminal justice at the University of Central Florida, where he also played football. In 1990, Smith was the first African-American ever elected to the Palmetto City Commission.
An ordained deacon for the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Smith also served the Manatee Sarasota Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as chairman and president. He has furthered his work with SCLC by participating on the organization’s state and national boards.
During his first stint as a city commissioner, Smith was relieved from office for pleading no contest to a felony charge involving bounced checks related to his bail bonds business. Smith was young and admittedly inexperienced in business and accounting at the time, when he found himself in a sticky situation because of an improper banking issue. He went on to become a popular activist in the Palmetto community and was reappointed to the board when Mary Lancaster retired in September of 2011 and then won reelection a year later.
While on the Palmetto City Commission, Smith established the first Housing Authority in the history of Palmetto, in an effort to help remove slum and blight in city housing. He also worked to create a partnership with Manatee Habitat for Humanity and was instrumental in establishing the City of Palmetto's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
Smith will face both Gallen and Corie Holmes in the August 26 primary election.
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