A new candidate has announced he will run for the District 27 state Senate seat, though his name should be familiar to local voters.
Steve Smith announced this week Democratic nomination in the race for the seat. In 2017, Smith ran as a Democrat in the District 26 State House of Representatives seat, which was won by Marc Morris.
Though Forsyth County is typically considered a Republican stronghold, Smith said he learned a lot in last year’s race and was inspired by the amount of support he received.
“I was kind of surprised by the amount of support I got from Democrats and progressives here in Forsyth. There was really more than I thought there was,” Smith said. “I was really encouraged by a lot of people that supported me to run again. I thought this time, running for a Senate seat, would cast kind of a wider net for Democrats and progressives in the county.”
Smith is the fourth candidate to declare for the seat and will face off against the winner of the Republican Primary. Republicans Greg Dolezal, Bill Fielder and Brian Tam have announced their candidacy for the Republican nomination.
In his previous campaign, Smith said he did not experience the negativity and vitriol from his opponents that typically goes with campaigns.
“Everybody was just incredibly nice, gracious and everything. I didn’t really anticipate that,” Smith said, laughing. “One of the big takeaways that I got from running in the fall is just how great my opponents were. They were good people.”
If elected, Smith said he did find some parts of state politics troubling and wanted to give Democrats and progressives in the county a voice.
“There’s a lot of division in our country because of the Trump administration and things like that, so I’m disturbed by the way we talk about Democrats,” he said. “I’m disturbed about this ‘religious liberty’ bill that they keep trying to pass through the state. Let’s be honest, it’s trying to legalize discrimination against the LGTBQ community.”
Smith said he felt another frequent topic, sanctuary cities, or cities that do not cooperate with the national government on immigration law, had become a political buzzword and could apply to Forsyth County.
“They estimate that in Forsyth County we have anywhere between 10,000 to 20,000 undocumented immigrants living in Forsyth County,” he said. “We almost kind of are a sanctuary city … I don’t think … anyone wants to let ICE come running through here and expel 15,000 of our Forsyth County neighbors.”
Smith is a graduate of Lassiter High School in Marietta but grew up in Oklahoma and lived in Texas, California and Nevada after graduating. He works in property management, is on the board of trustees at his Roswell church and has lived in the county for 10 years.