Editor's note: This week, we conclude our series of interviews with the candidates for Copperas Cove City Council. Nine of the ten candidates were kind enough to sit down for extended interviews with Copperas Cove Herald editor David Perdue over the last few weeks to talk about why they decided to run. For our online edition, each candidate interview will be published individually.
Place 7 City Council candidate Jack Smith has lived in Copperas Cove most of his life.
“My dad was military, and, of course, I didn’t have much of choice. I was six-months old,” Smith said during a recent interview at the Donlie McMullin Realty office in Copperas Cove. His parents came to the city in 1963, and Smith lived here until work took him away.
“There wasn’t a lot of job opportunities around here. I started working at Kmart when I was in high school. I went into their management program and moved away. I worked for them for about 14 years.”
Dissatisfied with the long hours demanded of a retail store manager, Smith left Kmart and eventually made his way back to Copperas Cove to be close to his aging parents.
Once he returned, he got into real estate and has continued working in the industry, focusing mostly on properties in Copperas Cove. He also began looking into opportunities for public service, starting with the Noon Exchange Club in Copperas Cove.
“Once I got into that and thought it serves the community, I went and joined the Chamber of Commerce...and then it just seems like anytime I have time and I see something that needs help, I try to help.”
Smith’s commitment to help has included stints on the Economic Development Corporation Board as well as positions on a handful of other professional boards and committees. He’s also a member of the Lions Club, the VFW and the Moose Lodge.
Now, Smith is running for elected office for the first time.
“I like the direction Copperas Cove is going in,” Smith said. “I think we’ve got a lot of good things happening here in Copperas Cove.”
Smith had never thought about running for office before, but then the chance to jump into the special election for the Place 7 seat came up.
“The time just felt right,” Smith said. “What I’d like to see is the bypass widened...the multi-modal rail facility get started and lots more businesses move here to Copperas Cove.”
Smith doesn’t think that it’s necessarily the responsibility of the City Council to put new businesses into empty buildings that line the 190 corridor.
“The only thing that the city can do is make sure that the rules and regulations aren’t stifling to businesses...that the sign ordinance is fixed...make sure that the permitting process isn’t too hard to get through. Just make it easy and get out of the businesses’ way.
“The city’s not here to create businesses. They have to have a climate where businesses can thrive.”
Smith is happy that Cove has a lot going for it when it comes to attracting new business.
“We are perfectly positioned,” Smith said. “Two years ago we couldn’t say that. I’ve been working on economic development for 20 years. A lot of our shortcomings are gone now.
“One we get the multi-modal facility...from what I understand, it will be the only one between south of San Antonio and north of Dallas. So I think we can work toward getting some distribution companies here, we can work toward getting some manufacturers here that can ship their stuff all over the world.”
When it comes to issues like the city’s contract with Fathom, Smith said he was not in favor of the deal because it outsourced city jobs to a third party. He also doesn’t want to see the city charged a service fee due to the volume of customer calls to that company.
“From what I understand, so far they haven’t charged us (the) $10 per call,” Smith said. “I certainly think they should never do that, personally, and i would fight to make sure that doesn’t happen. The only thing I can do is look into it and be as good a representative for the people of Copperas Cove against Fathom.”
That desire to be a good representative extends to what he hopes to achieve if elected.
“I don’t have an agenda. I have a platform, but I don’t have an agenda. I think that the best thing I can do for the community is be there to make the right decisions when either a cloud arises or an opportunity arises, and make the decisions that will help the community.”