Area banker seeks May's District 6 seat

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Okoboji banker Jeff Smith on Tuesday announced plans to run for the Iowa House District 6 seat currently held by Mike May.

May said he will not be seeking re-election in 2010 and voiced support for Smith -- a fellow Republican -- as part of the statement that officially announced Smith's campaign for the seat.

"Jeff is a candidate I whole-heartedly support," May said. "I know Jeff will be a strong, independent voice for us in the Iowa House. He is a keen listener, has a strong foundation, a good work ethic, and a strong sense of family values."

The Iowa State University graduate grew up on a family farm in northwest Iowa. Smith moved to Spirit Lake in 1994, and spent much of the last 15 years as a farm and commercial lender and the branch manager at First Bank and Trust. He left about two years ago, when First Bank and Trust changed ownership.

"Mike has always represented us very well and I think our district deserves somebody that can carry on what Mike has given us," Smith said.

May will finish a third term in the Iowa House serving District 6, which represents all of Dickinson County and the northeast corner of Clay County, including Spencer. Smith said it's important to maintain a loud, strong voice for the district while down in Des Moines.

"We can get forgotten sometimes up here," the candidate said. "I think it's important that we have somebody who is willing to put in the time and the work and to make sure our concerns for our district are heard down in Des Moines."

Smith used the phrase "out of control" to describe state spending and said addressing that would be a top priority.

"The 10 percent across-the-board budget cut is going to impact our district greatly and I think we need to get back to a common sense approach to handling the state budget -- similar to the way residents in our district handle their household budgets," he said. "You, quite honestly, can't spend more than you have. We need to look at some targeted budget cuts."

Smith said his background in the financial sector gives him the experience needed to go beyond expressing support for economic development.

"I will do more than just talk about it," he said. "I will put action behind those words. My hands-on experience in our community has shown me what tools are needed for a business to locate and create jobs here," he said. "I am committed to worthwhile economic development."

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Besides economic development and job creation, Smith also said he plans to bring a great deal of focus on Iowa's education system. Being the father of two children, Haley and Ryley, Smith said he understands the importance of making education a priority for Iowa's children.

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"Iowaصs students deserve to be the very best educated students in the nation," Smith said. "It's our job to give them the tools they need to be able to compete in an ever-changing global economy."

Smith said he isn't aware of any other candidates emerging for the District 6 seat, saying "my concern is not necessarily who I'm running against."

"I'm running for the voters of the district and my goal over the next three or four months up to the primary date is going to be meeting with as many people in the district as I can and listening to their concerns."

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Smith is a member and past president of the Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis. He's also served on the board of directors for the Spirit Lake Mainsail Chamber of Commerce, the Zoning Board and the Youth Athletic Association. Jeff and his family attend the Spirit Lake United Methodist Church.

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