Palmetto Commissioner Smith to run for Manatee Commission

jtate@bradenton.comJuly 24, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Commissioner Charles Smith reaffirmed this week he will not run for re-election to Palmetto City Commission in order to run for a seat on the Manatee County Commission in the 2014 election.

Smith said he will open his Manatee County Commission campaign account Aug. 1.

The Democrat first announced his intent in February and he reiterated it Monday during the Palmetto City Commission meeting.

The 49-year-old Smith said he is answering the call from District 2 constituents who told him they are unhappy with slow economic development, scarce business opportunities and lack of programs to assist residents.

"They are asking why don't they have programs, police patrolling and businesses within walking distance," said Smith.

Smith, raised in the Lincoln area of Palmetto, will go up against incumbent Commissioner Michael Gallen, a fellow Democrat.

"They need help to build themselves up and they need an advocate," said Smith. "They need someone who's been in the community most of his life."

Smith said the solution to District 2's economic problems is to put incentives in place for businesses and to build community partnerships to ensure employment opportunities for residents.

"We need a way to get people back to work," said Smith.

He said Manatee County commissioners are looking to help their economically depressed communities.

"I think the board of county commissioners will embrace a diversified voice especially with the experience that I have," said Smith.

He has the contact to bring national business influence to the area, he said. He brings decades worth of service from serving on the Palmetto Youth Center Board at age 23 to serving on the national board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Smith, a marketing consultant, has worked with his family business, Manatee Harvesting Company Inc., which has been in business for more than 40 years.

"People know me. People know who I am. People know that if I can do something I will do it," said Smith. "My word is my bond."

He said he's already received financial commitments and more than 20 endorsements, including Bradenton Councilman Harold Byrd Jr.

Gallen has already filed with the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections to run again for the District 2 seat. Gallen, an attorney first elected in 2010, is now vice chairman of the commission.

He said his main reason for running again is due to his successful record, which includes closing a Palmetto neighborhood store called Groover's Super Market, which reportedly had become a magnet for criminal activity.

"I would like to continue to complete projects that I've started," said Gallen. "I continue to respond to the needs of the county and district."

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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