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Democrat joins race for mayor

Brookhaven now has a Democrat running for mayor with the entry of David Douglas Smith III in the race as the third candidate to qualify.

Smith filed papers Wednesday to seek the office of mayor in upcoming municipal elections. Friday is the deadline for office seekers to qualify.

“It’s time to take our city to another level,” Smith said, describing his motivation as a candidate. “I believe by pulling together and working together we can get more done.”

He joins a field that includes Joe Cox, a Republican, and Rose “Polly” Powell, an independent candidate.

The Democratic hopeful is a native of Brookhaven. Smith, 62, has worked the last 23 years as a truck driver. He’s nearing retirement from his time on the road and is ready now to help Brookhaven succeed, he said.

To achieve that success, Smith underscored the need for increased job opportunities and the kind of industries that can provide those jobs.

“We have nothing to offer kids,” Smith said. “Our kids that graduate, they have nothing to come back home for.”

Before he took up driving trucks, Smith worked several years on the assembly line at the former Homelite Jacobsen plant before it shuttered its doors in 1992, so he’s seen the erosion of manufacturing and industrial jobs in the area.

He remains optimistic about the future, though.

“We have all the tools to draw industry,” he said. “We’ve got I-55 running through here and a railroad station. We’ve got land. We’ve got Co-Lin.”

However, industrial recruitment and job creation efforts would take somewhat of a backseat as his second priority if elected mayor.

His first priority would see Smith focusing all his attention on the people already right here in town.

“My biggest goal would be bringing Brookhaven together and putting pride back into this town,” he said. “If this is your home, why would you step over a piece of paper instead of picking it up? Show pride in yourself and in your town. That starts with each house.”

And even without the sort of large-scale economic development project city and business leaders continue to hope for, Smith believes a successful mayor must be prepared to work with the available resources.

“The mayor’s job is to make sure we can get the most of our taxpayer money,” Smith said. “It’s been done, but it can be done better, I believe.”

Though he acknowledges that “There’s a lot of things I would have to learn,” Smith feels his working class background is an asset to his candidacy.

“If you haven’t experienced something, you can’t relate to them,” Smith said of the hardships facing many of Brookhaven’s residents. “I will make the average voter know he has a spokesman that is speaking for him.”