Hoover Councilman Gene Smith said it’s exciting anytime there’s new blood coming onto the City Council, but “I just don’t want that new blood to be in Place 2.”
But Smith wants Hoover voters to bring him back for a fourth term. “I still think I have things to offer,” Smith said.
Smith was first elected in 2004, beating out three other candidates, and faced no opposition in 2008 and 2012. This year, he faces challenger Sam Swiney in the Aug. 23 election.
If re-elected, Smith said his goals will be to: maintain the financial stability of the city; improve public safety by adding more firefighters to match the city’s growth and improve the city’s fire insurance rating; support law enforcement with needed personnel, equipment and training; and work with school officials to address educating funding needs without letting city services suffer.
The last two fire stations built in Hoover were staffed by transferring existing firefighters from other stations, Smith said. “At some point, we need to backfill those positions,” he said.
Also, Bessemer and Center Point both have achieved a Class 1 fire rating from the Insurance Services Organization, while Hoover’s rating is Class 2, Smith said. “If they can do it, we should be awful close,” he said.
Whomever is elected to the council will need to work as a group to determine the city’s needs across the board and hopefully address a “want” here or there, too, Smith said.
“I know that educating funding is at the top of many people’s lists, and I support looking into seeing what we can do,” he said.
Some candidates have claimed they want to immediately find $7 million a year for Hoover schools, but Smith said he doesn’t think that is feasible. Some want to pull money out of the capital projects fund, but Smith said some of those capital dollars are matches for much more state or federal money, and if Hoover pulls out of those projects, there could be a fine.
Smith said he doesn’t know what the answer is to address school funding, but he is committed to work with the school board, superintendent and mayor to determine that.
Smith in the past has spoken against a sales tax increase but now says he would not be opposed to a referendum on a sales tax increase. However, the public and business community need to be involved in any discussions, he said.
Smith said the council is elected to take care of the city’s needs first. Any help the city can give outside entities is very appropriate, “but we can’t let city services suffer because of somebody else’s needs,” he said.
Smith, 59, originally is from Georgia and moved to what is now Hoover when he was in the first grade. He graduated from Berry High School in 1975, completed his paramedic studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and served 18 years as a Hoover firefighter.
Since retiring from the city in 1993, he has made his living in the finance business. He owns short-term loan companies with 18 locations in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, and he owns a 40 percent stake in Hoover Tactical Firearms.
Before joining the City Council, Smith served five years on the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission and about four years on the UAB 310 Mental Health Board. He and his wife, Pam, live in the Magnolia Grove subdivision and have three children and three grandchildren.
See the general preview for the Aug. 23 Hoover municipal election, including bios on all the candidates here. Also, this list contains links to individual stories on candidates. A few of those stories are still in progress.