WRITTEN BY GREGG L. PARKER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JEN FOUTS-DETULLEO
Steve Smith represents District 2 on Madison City Council with a keen financial perspective and proven dedication.
Smith said he decided to run when then Councilman Steve Haraway transitioned to county commissioner. “The city needed someone to continue to put in time and effort daily. I felt I had the right skill set to run and make a difference,” he said. For his second term, Smith felt the same about the position – only magnified. “What was different is I truly understood the importance of how daily decisions made by elected officials and employees affect our city for years down the road.”
Smith takes pride in his work for the Madison recreation campus on Celtic Drive. “I hate it turned political and was voted down. The rec campus could have been the jewel of Madison,” he said. “During the campaign, I was told to downplay the rec campus because I would lose votes, but I owned it and got more votes than any other candidate.”
The recreation center would have been “an economic driver by bringing people to Madison and was going to provide desperately needed water for our swim community, create investment on Madison Boulevard and provide a revenue stream to invest back into our other parks. I’ll continue to push for a rec campus in some form. Our city has to invest in itself and our citizens to continue as the top-rated place to live,” he added.
In prioritizing city needs, Madison City Schools ranks No. 1 because the district’s reputation attracts most people to relocate here, Smith said. “The best way to support our schools is financial. Creating revenue must be our No. 2 priority.” Surprisingly, opening new businesses isn’t necessarily the answer. Smith said he believes most residents have a limited monthly budget, and new businesses don’t create a revenue stream. City leaders need to attract out-of-towners into Madison. Whether Town Madison, a new rec complex or something else, leaders must create a long-term vision and “be bold enough to go down that path.”
“Madison has some of the best employees any municipality or business could ever ask for,” Smith said. “They work in an environment where they have a new boss every four years, who could change the city’s direction on a whim, and the employees are powerless.”
A Nashville native, Smith worked after college for Consolidated Freightways, which led him and wife Mickie to move to Madison in 1994. He earned bachelor’s degrees in business administration and computer information systems from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, where he played baseball. One summer, he played in Holland, Spain and Czechoslovakia.
He later worked as fleet manager for First Fleet Truckload Carriers in Huntsville. In 2007 he founded his own businesses.
Mickie has worked at Adtran for 22 years. Their son Spencer, 22, is a senior at the University of Alabama and son Chandler, 20, is a sophomore at University of Alabama in Huntsville. The Smiths attend Asbury United Methodist Church.
During his career, Steve best remembers a manager at Consolidated Freightways. Steve was a recent college graduate; the manager, having 25-plus years with the company, was a taskmaster demanding near perfection. Luckily, Steve’s parents taught him to work at the best of his ability. Eventually, the manager realized his work ethic and prepared him to advance within the company.
Steve said he believes his major accomplishment on the council has been helping “our city turn around financially.” He advocated for city policy updates to guarantee sound financial decisions, regardless of who wins elections. The council and mayor “are only as good as those who fill the spot, but sound policy that helps govern decisions can help ensure Madison thrives long after I leave.”