Resident and active community member Sam Smiley confirmed Wednesday he will run for Post I Commissioner on the Republican ticket.
Smiley, an 18 year resident of Rockdale County, said he had been approached by people to run for the seat since summer of 2010 but had only given it serious consideration in the last few months.
“I don’t think it was any one thing” that tipped the decision, he said. “It’s really more a conglomeration of the things I’ve seen over the last three years. I’ve seen a lot of the bad decisions that have been made at the board, going all the way back to Roselyn Miller being appointed.”
Smiley, an IT consultant and owner of Rockdale NeTworks, has been attending Board of Commissioner meetings since April 2009 and started the BOCwatch.org discussion board and newsletter shortly after.
One of his biggest concerns is fiscal responsibility.
“I see a lot of wasteful expenses. We’ve got residents barely making ends meet. Some of which haven’t made ends meet. We’ve seen a government in the last three years that simply has grown.”
“What can we do to reduce spending. Commissioner (JaNice) Van Ness offered to outsource the HR department. That wasn’t even considered by either Commissioner Nesbitt or Chairman Oden. It’s like they don’t even care whether they make any cuts with the budget.”
Smiley pointed out the BOC’s budget started at $350,000 in 2008. “Going into the final years of the administration, you’re looking at a budget that’s almost $1 million.”
Smiley said being elected wouldn’t change his approach as a self-described “pit bull” for the residents.
“I don’t know that being there as a Commissioner will change the way I look at things. I’ve been a business owner for a very long time,” he said. “It’s always been about the residents of the community.”
Smiley would run against Tom Harrison, who announced last year his intention to run, in the Republican primary in July.
He said he agrees with Harrison in most issues.
“I don’t know that there’s a philosophical difference between us,” Smiley said. “I know some people. Tom knows some people. We can bring different people to the table.”
“The thing with me is I think it’s important to offer the residents of the county a choice for who they send to November to face the winner of the Democratic primary.”
“I think Tom and I have different personalities. As I have demonstrated with the BOC over the last several years, I go after issues a little harder.”
Smiley currently sits on the 2011 SPLOST Citizen’s Oversight Committee. He is involved in GeorgiaCarry.org and has worked with state legislators on revising laws regulating firearm licensing.
“I believe if people are going to make change in their government, it’s going to come from the bottom up,” he said.
Although he’s running as a Republican, he supports legislation that would make local political seats non-partisan. “I really believe that would make local government better,” he said.
Smiley, 47, the youngest of three brothers, grew up in Oxford, Miss. and moved to Newton County in his junior year of high school, graduating from Newton County High School in 1982. He began work as a mechanic at Ginn Motor Company and at his father’s hydraulic consulting company, where he began maintaining the computer and networking systems.
The winner of the Republican primary would face the Democratic primary winner in the November general elections. Current Post I Commissioner Oz Nesbitt announced his intention to run on for re-election. Nesbitt will face off against businessman Jerry Shepperd, who serves on the Keep Conyers Rockdale Beautiful committee, in the Democratic primary.
(Jan. 25, 9:34 a.m.) IN BRIEF: Rockdale County resident Sam Smiley confirmed he will run for the Republican nomination for Post I County Commission seat. The seat is currently held by Commissioner Oz Nesbitt. Smiley, who regularly attends BOC meetings and runs the website BOCwatch.org, would face off against Tom Harrison, who announced his bid last year, for the Republican nomination. Check back later for the full story.