Candidate: Rodney "Smokey" Smithley
Part Affiliation: Republican (write-in candidate)
Occupation: Owner/Operator - Smokey's Glass
Education: Ballard Elementary, Manatee Middle School, Southeast High School, graduated; Apprentice School Glazier for four years
Smithley has lived in Manatee County since 1956, where he and his wife of 41 years, Patti, have raised two children. He started working at Smokey's Glass in 1972 at the age of 18, and became the business' owner in 1983. 40 years later, he's still at it.
Smithley has been on the board of Lutheran Church, where he also taught Sunday School and is a former board member for the Cub Scouts as well.
He says he is seeking the SOE post because he thinks it is a job that needs to be filled by a passionate and caring individual. "It is not a job for opportunity or personal gain," said Smithley. "I am very passionate and I care deeply about the right to vote. It is the most important and basic right we have as individuals. It is the foundation of our Democracy."
Smithley faces an uphill battle as a write-in candidate, after failing to collect enough petition signatures to get his name on the ballot during the Republican primary, where he was the first candidate to file. To his credit, he's been campaigning vigorously, attending candidate forums, canvassing and putting up clever signs that demonstrate how to vote for him in November.
"I am committed to giving back to the community that has given so much to me," says Smithley. "I pledge to be accountable and accessible to our voters. I want to educate people why it is important to vote, so their voices may be heard. My duty will be to ensure to all our citizens the integrity of our elections and the accuracy of the vote count."
Smithley says that the most important issue facing the office is "True to Vote Voter Fraud" and would like to see people have to show their birth certificate to prove they are a legal citizen when registering to vote, as well as photo ID's when voting at the polls.
"Some people think it's not happening in our state or county, but it is," argues Smithley, who says, "it's about strengthening the people's faith in the system. Since 9/11 we are required to show photo ID to fly, cash a check, and enter federal building. You cannot be a part of the mainstream of America life today without a photo ID, so why not get a photo ID in the hands of everyone?"
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