News-Sun photo Greg Smith is running for the District 5 county commission seat.
published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Smith wants to be people's voice
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Greg Smith is running for the Highlands County Board of County Commission's District 5 seat.
Born in Ohio, he moved to Highlands County with his family in 1985 and is a 1990 graduate of Sebring High School. He received an associate degree from then South Florida Community College, and a bachelor's degree in business administration, sports management, at Florida Southern College.
Smith helped open the Highlands County Family YMCA and worked there 14 years, ultimately serving as aquatics director.
In addition, he has been active with a number of other youth-oriented agencies, including the Healthy Start Community Action Group, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Alliance and Drug Free Highlands.
"It was working with community group volunteers at the Y that kind of led to this," Smith said, referring to his campaign for public office. "It gets you thinking about giving back to the community. Because of them, I'm doing this."
He sees a commissioner's job as setting policy, providing direction and overseeing the result.
"As an elected official," Smith said, "I am a voice for the people. They are my boss. My job is to listen."
He sees the commission as a full-time job. "This is where my time's going to be spent," he said.
One of Smith's important goals is "getting everybody positive and working together looking for solutions. I'm tired of hearing the same crying all the time."
He wants to encourage the elderly to get out and enjoy their lives, and create opportunities so the young people growing up here want to stay.
"We need to bring in more business so families can provide for themselves and keep the community thriving," he said. "I see a lot of growth."
On the other hand, Smith added, the county still has to be cautious regarding its budget. When it comes to supporting non-profit organizations, "We only have so much," he said. "We can't always just give, give, give. We don't have the money."
This is why he supports developing more sports, art and cultural activities to draw tourists and outside money into the county.
"The Art League, the softball fields, activities for healthy living, it's all good," Smith said. He supports new business ideas like the outdoor recreation area, and thinks there is room for manufacturing or industry out by the Sebring airport. He said he hopes to see investment promoted in the area.
"Ag has always been a big part of the county's economy," he said. "But we need a mix of all three."
Smith agrees that waiving impact fees in the current financial market is necessary to encourage investment. "We need to allow things to grow," he said. "It would be nice to have the impact fee money, but there would be no money at all if new business didn't move in because of the fees."
Smith paused for a moment, then said, "Life is a puzzle, you have to make the pieces fit."
Small Banner Ads