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March 27, 2007

ADVERTISEMENT Health Source 2007

The Next Supervisor

  • Smith to carry on tradition of service

    By Lucy Weber
    lweber@mcherald.com



    Will Smith | The Herald

    The lone District 3 supervisor candidate since the withdrawal of Andy Taggart, D.I. Smith still plans to ask residents for their votes.



    D.I. SMITH RESUME

  • Retired Army colonel, with experience in a variety of leadership and staff positions. Looking to use management and other skills as Madison County District 3 supervisor.

    WORK HISTORY
  • Member of the U.S. Army, 1969-1999, including six years command experience in field artillery and aviation with combat service in Vietnam and Panama. Also Inspector General, Mississippi National Guard, 1996-1999.
  • Currently serving as on-site property manager for Dinsmor subdivision, Ridgeland.

    EDUCATION
  • University of Southern Mississippi, B.S. in business management.
  • Troy State University, Master of Business Administration.
  • Military schools, Field Artillery Officer basic and advanced courses; U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; U.S. Army War College

    MEMBERSHIPS
  • Military Officers Association of America
  • Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association
  • Army Aviation Association of America
  • American Legion
  • Jackson Metro Cyclists
  • Jackson Triathlon Club
  • Mississippi Track Club

    SKILLS
  • Helicopter pilot
  • Avid bicyclist
  • Triathlete

    AWARDS and DECORATIONS
  • Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star Medal
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Air Medal (10)
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Senior Parachutist Badge
  • Master Army Aviator Badge
  • Ranger Tab

    PERSONAL
  • Wife, Linda; father of two daughters and grandfather of six
  • Member of Highland Colony Baptist Church and deacon
  • Web site: www.dismith.com

  • D.I. Smith recalls the lessons he learned growing up in the Delta town of Sidon and watching his father, a Leflore County supervisor for eight years.

    Probably one of the earliest lessons in ethics Smith said he ever received came on his family's farm when there was a bulldozer just sitting there. A local dealer had brought it out for his father to try.

    "I asked my father 'Why aren't you using it?' He said, 'It's not right for me to be getting the benefit of it,'" Smith recalls his father saying. "'They brought it so I'd be indebted.'"

    Now, decades later, Smith wants to follow the tradition of his father and his grandfather, also a Leflore supervisor. "I hope I can measure up to their standards," he said.

    Friends said county supervisor is a job for which Smith, a 30-year military man, is ideally suited. With no opposition, Smith will win the District 3 seat on the Madison County Board of Supervisors this year.

    "He has high standards, and he'll do what's right for the county," said Tom Logue, the veterans service officer for the county and a neighbor of Smith in the Dinsmor subdivision.

    "He's a man with enormous integrity," said Dave Robinson, who has known him for 30 years through the Army and now as a neighbor in their Ridgeland subdivision where Smith serves as on-site property manager. "He's in it for the service. He really wants to do what he can for the community and in the spirit of his daddy and granddaddy."

    Since he qualified to run for office minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline March 1, Smith said he's heard nothing but positive comments from friends and neighbors stopping him on the street, calling him and e-mailing him, with 150 or more stored on his computer.

    "I have not received any criticism," he said.

    Not so for Andy Taggart, the current District 3 supervisor, who dropped out of the race shortly after Smith qualified.

    Voters in the district have complained they lost the right to vote for their next representative because of Taggart's withdrawal after the deadline for all candidates to qualify for the Aug. 7 primary election. Taggart said he wants to concentrate on his law practice.

    "With 2 0/20 hindsight, certainly Andy would be getting less grief if I'd qualified earlier," Smith said. "At some point in time, if Andy hadn't dropped out, I probably would have dropped out."

    While there are public complaints about the lack of a competitive election in District 3, "I don't take it personally," Smith said.

    Smith said he met Taggart at the National Day of Prayer breakfast in Ridgeland in 2003 and has stayed in touch since, mainly on issues dealing with Dinsmor.

    "This was not a conspiracy," Smith said, about his qualifying and Taggart's withdrawal so close together.

    "I had considered running for years. It was no secret this was something I always wanted to do," said Smith, adding that he contacted Taggart to alert him to his decision to run.

    "I'm a strong believer in the Lord, and I give all the credit to him for having this opportunity and I plan to give all the energy I've got," Smith said. "I had thousands of prayer warriors around the world praying for this situation."

    Smith said he is approaching the election as if he does have an opponent.

    "I plan to visit with as many residents of District 3 as possible. I plan to take part in as many candidate forums as I can.

    "I want people to know who D.I. Smith is, and I want to solicit their opinions," he said. "I look forward to meeting even more people in the county."

    To prepare for his new job, Smith attended his first Board of Supervisors meeting as a member of the audience last week and said he intends to attend as many as he can.

    Smith said he is studying issues in the district and countywide.

    "I'm excited to get into the details (of the county's road program)," he said. "I'm learning more about the planning and budgeting process the county follows.

    "It will take me a while to develop corporate knowledge and to get with constituents and obtain input from them," he said. "I plan to do everything I can do about what the people feel the priorities should be."

    The roads in the Annandale subdivision need substantial upgrades and improvements, an issue Taggart has been working on in his tenure. Smith said he needs to study and talk about the issue more but the county needs "to start dealing with it now," he said.

    The building of a juvenile justice facility has been promoted by county judges, but the current board has not yet voted on what steps to take. Smith's view of the subject: "We have a need and we need to consider alternatives to incarceration. It is unsatisfactory to me to be taking our teenagers to some other facility in another county."

    In his three years on the board, Taggart has been a strong advocate of turning over county functions to private companies if it saves taxpayers money.

    "I had a lot of experience with that in the military. Most of my experiences with privatizing is that it has improved services," Smith said.

    Smith retired in 1999 as a colonel after a 30-year Army career, which he finished as inspector general for the Mississippi National Guard.

    During his years of service, he held a variety of command and leadership positions. He led soldiers into battle in Vietnam and Panama. He commanded garrisons where he oversaw the roads, buildings and people, all skills he said that will come into play as a county supervisor.

    His military training has prepared him well for the job, Smith said.

    Robinson, a retired Army general, agrees. "He's a man with a purpose and a drive. He knows how to work with people," he said. "With D.I., what you see is what you get."

    "Military leadership is working with diverse groups of people and obtaining a consensus," Smith said. "I've got a lot of capabilities to provide to the citizens of District 3. I know what it is to serve.

    "I consider myself an ethical and moral person," Smith said. "I've got a lot to give to this county."

    The Rev. Jay Richardson, pastor of Highland Colony Baptist Church, said Smith has been involved in leadership positions in the church for years.

    "He is a man of great character. He is a man not afraid to stand for his own principles. He will make a great supervisor," Richardson said.


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