PALMETTO -- Charles Smith is running for County Commissioner of District 2 in Manatee County. Smith says, "We need strong leadership with diverse conversation that understands the needs of district 2. There are needs that are not being addressed."
Smith was born in New York, raised in Palmetto, graduated from Palmetto High, then 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 as a Palmetto City Council member. He is an accomplished marketing consultant and is currently serving on the Palmetto City Commission, a seat he won in 2012, when he easily scored a 24-point victory over Carolyn Higdon, in an election that saw both applicants for the seat vacated by Mary Lancaster. Smith had been temporarily appointed by the board previously, when Lancaster retired prior to the end of her term.
Commissioner Smith has worked in the community for over 27 years, is a member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Chairman/President of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, serves as State President of the Florida Black Caucus of local elected officials and is Vice-President of the Manatee Branch of the NAACP.
Since Smith's election to the Palmetto City Commission, he has established the first Housing Authority in the history of Palmetto, in an effort to help remove slum and blight in city housing; created a partnership with Manatee Habitat for Humanity and was instrumental in establishing the City of Palmetto's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
Smith also fought for diversity in law enforcement, helping to bring about the first black female officer hired in Palmetto. Smith says that he feels a more aggressive approach to securing change in the mostly urban, low-income district is needed and that his leadership style is well suited for the task.
Smith faces incumbent Michael Gallen and former District 1 candidate Corie Holmes in a three-way Democratic primary this August. There is no Republican on the ballot, but because a write-in candidate has registered, the race will be closed off to Democrats only.