Smith seeks county commission seat


Editor’s Note: This is part of a weekly series of candidate profiles leading up to the March 1 election.

Russell Smith is a fixture on the sidelines of just about any Madisonville High School sporting event. As the district’s assistant athletic director and social studies department head, he’s used to working within a budget, making purchasing decisions and being a leader.

Now he’d like to take those skills to another level and serve as Precinct 1 county commissioner. The first-time candidate is seeking office against incumbent Richard B. “Ricky” Driskell.

Early voting begins Feb. 16, and the voter registration deadline is Feb. 1. Election Day is March 1.

Smith, 51, studied city management, urban planning, transportation and wastewater management — under the umbrella of a geography/applied sciences degree — at Southwest Texas, now known as Texas State University. He minored in history and physical education.

“I never got the teaching bug out of my system,” he said.

He moved to Madisonville 21 years ago and raised two daughters in the local school system. He and his wife jointly own Walker’s Café with another local couple.

He said his experience as a small business owner will help him guide the county in the right direction.

“It needs leadership and a long-range plan,” he said.

If elected, his responsibilities as a teacher and coach would be “phased out,” he said. Smith currently serves on a district-wide improvement committee but believes he could be of greater assistance.

“I think I can do more with the county,” he said. “It’s a similar job. I think I can use the knowledge I’ve attained to better serve the county in this position. I’ve gained a lot of leadership skills through leading my peers and young men.”

If elected, Smith said he hopes to work hand in hand with the local economic development corporation, expanding and recruiting businesses while also maintaining and improving infrastructure.

“We’ll continue to grow at a positive rate,” he said. “We don’t want to infringe on ranchers and agricultural production, but there is room for growth.”

He noted that his campaign experience has been positive, and thanked Driskell for keeping it above board.

Other candidates on the March 1 ballot include:

•Karen M. Lane — tax-assessor-collector

•Travis Neeley, James S. Jackson and Ivan W. Linebaugh — sheriff

•Carl Lynn Cannon — Precinct 3 commissioner

•James L. Weathers — Precinct 1 constable

•Charles D. Turner — Precinct 2 constable

Early voting will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 16-26 at the Madison County Courthouse, 101 W. Main St., Madisonville (Room 108) and at North Zulch Public School, 11390 Fifth St., North Zulch.

On Election Day — March 1 — polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following locations:

Vote Center One: Midway Community Center, 5612 School Loop, Midway

Vote Center Two: Elwood Baptist Church, 14527 OSR, Midway

Vote Center Three: Courthouse Room 108, 101 W. Main St., Madisonville

Vote Center Four: North Zulch School: 11390 Fifth St., North Zulch

Vote Center Five: Sand Prairie Baptist Church, 12652 FM 1452 West, Normangee

Vote Center Six: Madison County Annex, Room 122, 103 W. Trinity St., Madisonville