Steve Smith knows it’s not easy for a Democrat to run in Forsyth County, but he’s up for the challenge.
Smith is one of three candidates, and the only Democrat, to qualify for the special election to replace former District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan, who resigned the seat to focus on his campaign for lieutenant governor.
Smith said this is his first time running for office and, as a retail manager, wants to be a voice for working families in the county.
“People are looking for fresh and different voices to represent them, and I will bring a working class perspective to addressing our needs in a way that career politicians and business leader-turned-politicians do not understand,” Smith said in a news release.” The working families of Forsyth County deserve to have one of their own representing them in Atlanta.”
While new to politics, he has a history of public service.
“I really have a passion for public service,” Smith said in an interview with the Forsyth County News. “I’ve been the president of my church’s board of trustees. I’m currently the president of my homeowner’s association. I really do just love people and I love public service.”
Forsyth County is one of the most conservative counties in the state, and all current members of the Georgia General Assembly representing the county are Republicans.
Smith said he was very aware of the county’s political leaning, but felt there should be a choice.
“That’s why this is so interesting to me,” he said. “I have always been involved in public service and, of course, you know that I registered for the race as a Democrat, which I know will probably turn some heads in Forsyth County, but I’ve always voted and always been interested in politics and following it.
“At the local level, Democrats don’t run, so I thought, ‘Maybe it’s time for a Democrat to run for a race in Forsyth County and give people a choice.”
He said he also hopes running as a Democrat will help with the political division happening in the state and country and, if elected, wants to work with community members to find which issues are important to them.
“Because of the political climate right now, I think there is a lot of opportunity everywhere, but particularly in Forsyth, to be used as an opportunity to look into the things that really unite us instead of divide us,” he said.
“I think when people with different points of view and different backgrounds get together; I think it’s important to show and to see there’s a lot more out there that brings us together than separates us.”
Smith said he wants to help bring high-paying jobs to the county and keep the high quality of life.
He is also in favor of looking at ways to bring more movie and TV filming to the county, which would bring jobs and tax revenue.
“Film production in Georgia brings $9 million in economic impact; that’s just a crazy number,” he said.
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 said his family moved to Forsyth County about nine years ago, to be closer to family when his daughter was born, and has been here since.
“We settled in Forsyth because it’s the place to live. It’s the best schools; it’s just the best place in Georgia to live,” he said.
He will face off against Republicans Marc Morris, a Navy veteran and president of The Talmadge Group, and Tina Trent, a freelance political writer for Capitol Research Center and America’s Survival.
The election will be held Nov. 7, and in-person absentee voting will begin on Oct. 16. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote plus one vote, a runoff election will be held on Dec. 5.
Voters must register to vote in the election by Oct. 10.