• 77°

Seventh candidate joins race for circuit clerk

They call him “Cadillac Mike,” but come November he hopes voters call him Lincoln County’s next circuit clerk.

     L. Mike Smith, 51, of Brookhaven, has joined a crowded field seeking the circuit clerk’s office in this year’s special election. He has become the seventh declared candidate in the race.

     “My wife and I prayed about it, and we tested the waters and I felt like this was something I ought to do,” Smith said last week in an interview about his campaign.

     Smith identified as a Democrat on his qualifying paperwork, joining Janie Sisco, Dr. Lenard King, Paula Smith and Josh Davis as the Democrats in the race. Dustin Bairfield and Mike Walley are running as Republicans.

     Candidates’ party affiliations will be listed on the ballot, but they all will be running together in the Nov. 6 special election. There will be no party primaries.

    Mike Smith owns the Brookhaven-based Smith’s Auto Sales, hence, his nickname, and the candidate pointed to what he called a successful business career as laying the groundwork for a successful campaign.

     “You’ve got to have a little politician in you to be a salesman,” Smith said.

     Smith also believes local ties and the name recognition those ties bring deliver big dividends when chasing a countywide race.

     “I think what people are looking for in that office is someone they know, a local boy with deep roots,” Smith said.

     By those criteria, Smith believes his resume delivers.

      “I’m a Brookhaven boy,” Smith said. “I’m home planted.”

     Though he thinks it’s essential to getting into the office, Smith said he knows actually running the office requires more than a known name. To the day-to-day duties the clerk faces, Smith once again believes his business experience provides the resources he needs.

     “The blessings God has given to me in retail would be very advantageous,” Smith said, specifically citing his background with budgeting.

     Smith also described the current staff of the circuit clerk’s office as very knowledgeable and said that staff will be an asset to the next circuit clerk.

     Smith lives in Brookhaven with his wife Carolynn and three sons, Austin, 14, Peyton, 12, and Sam, 8.

     Sept. 7 is the final day candidates may qualify to run for circuit clerk.

     Of the seven candidates in the race, Bairfield, Walley and Davis all ran for the same office in last year’s county elections. Bairfield defeated Walley in the Republican primary, but was defeated in the general election by incumbent Terry Lynn Watkins. Bairfield captured 46.33 percent of the vote.

     If no candidate receives a majority of all votes on Nov. 6, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will follow on Nov. 27.

     Following her re-election to a fifth term last November, Watkins resigned in January as part of a plea deal to avoid a trial on felony embezzlement charges.