PALMETTO -- Saying people in Palmetto are suffering, Palmetto City Commissioner Charles Smith on Wednesday announced he would run for a Manatee County Commission seat next year.
Smith, a Democrat, said he intends to finish out his term on the Palmetto commission, which ends in November 2014.
But he announced early so those who would like to run for his seat would have plenty of time to prepare, he added.
Asked why he decided to run for the seat now held by Democrat Michael Gallen, Smith replied, "The main reason I'm running is I don't see anything being done in District 2."
The area needs jobs, development, infrastructure improvements and stores, said Smith, 49, of Palmetto, a marketing consultant and civic leader.
"Everywhere I went, people are asking me to run for county commission," Smith said among a group of sup
porters who turned out for his announcement at Palmetto City Hall.
Gallen, the incumbent, said after Smith's announcement, "Competition for elected office is good for the people of Manatee County."
"I always taught my students this when I was an American government teacher. This is exciting news," he said.
Among those who appeared with Smith during a news conference was Bradenton City Councilman Harold E. Byrd, Jr. and his mother, Ruby Byrd; athlete and civic leader Henry Lawrence; and Charles N. Williams Jr., who last year lost his bid to be Manatee County elections supervisor.
"He's energetic and has a heart for people," said Geneva Presha, who said Smith was her nephew. "I'm so excited."
Smith was born in Batavia, N.Y., but was raised in the Lincoln area of Palmetto.
He graduated from Palmetto High School and the University of Central Florida with a degree in criminal justice, according to his Palmetto Commission website profile.
Smith is a member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, where he is an ordained deacon. He also serves as the chairman/president of the Manatee-Sarasota Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and on the SCLC's state and national boards.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.