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Jerry Smith resigns from Hendersonville City Council

Council member Jerry Smith makes a point at a council meeting in May 2023. [LIGHTNING FILE PHOTO] Council member Jerry Smith makes a point at a council meeting in May 2023. [LIGHTNING FILE PHOTO]

Jerry Smith, a Hendersonville City Council for the past 14 years, announced Thursday night that he is resigning from the council effective Monday.

Smith made the announcement at the tail end of what turned out to be his last council meeting. Pausing at times in the more emotional moments — especially when talking about his family — Smith gave no indication of his next chapter.

"I do not know what the future holds," he said. "I look forward to helping my city in other ways. Who knows what the next chapter will hold in my service to the city."

Smith had shared with a few people his intention to publicly resign and as a result the council honored him with a proclamation and a retirement rocking chair after he read a lengthy statement thanking his fellow council members, city staff, voters and his family for their service alongside him and their support during his council service.

Here is his statement:

"For the past 14 years, I have been able to meet the needs of my family while also serving as a council member. While challenging at times, I feel that I have been able to fulfill both roles to the best of my ability. Upon deep reflection and much prayer, I have decided that I have to step away from council at this time in order to be more present to take care of my family and my parents. I am asking City Council to accept my resignation effective at the end of my council conversation on Monday, October 9th. I apologize to the residents, to council and to city staff for leaving before my term is completed. It has been quite difficult coming to this decision. I appreciate your understanding and patience with me.

"As I depart from council, I would like to share a few thoughts. First, Hendersonville is such a great place to live. There are so many great people living in our town and in the surrounding communities. It has been an honor to serve you on council. My favorite part of being a council member has been the moments I could help an individual with a problem by finding the right person in local government to assist them. I even had a chance to do this today for a constituent. It is extremely fulfilling to see local government work for the residents, businesses, and visitors. I am a strong believer that open democracy is the best form of government, though sometimes difficult, slow and often time-consuming. Democracy starts first with competent municipal government. We have one in the City of Hendersonville.

"Second, it has been a pleasure to serve on council with some great council members throughout the years. Jeff Collis, Jeff Miller, Ron Stephens, Steve Caraker and Ralph Freeman and of course the council members with whom I currently serve, have all been exemplary elected leaders of our hometown. Debbie, you have such a wonderful heart. You are sincere in everything you do. Getting to know you as a council member and friend has enriched my life on council. You represent the residents of Hendersonville with dignity, dedication and enthusiasm. You are an inspiration. Thank you, Debbie, for your service. Jenn and Lyndsey, since you both started council at the same time, I flipped a coin to see who I would mention first…. that’s the truth. Jenn, you’re first. You are forthright. You mean what you say. You are not afraid to advocate for an idea that may not be the majority view on council at that moment. That takes guts. You have a sincere concern for all people. I have enjoyed having you as my neighbor for four years, especially the goodies you have brought me at meetings. You are a concerned and empathic representative on council. Thank you, Jenn, for your service.

"Lyndsey, the lady with the purple hair as my own child with purple hair would call you. I have enjoyed getting to know you. Your dedication to social fairness and ecological preservation are evident in all your decisions. You are open to your constituents’ ideas and open to ideas with which you may initially disagree. You are also an empathetic and concerned representative on council. Your optimism is infectious. Thank you, Lyndsey, for your service. Finally, Barbara. Your first term as mayor was my first term on council. You have been my mayor, our mayor, for the last 14 years. You represent our city with class, professionalism, and undying dedication. Your level-headed approach to governing has been a calming influence throughout the literally hundreds of meetings we have attended together during this time. Our occasional disagreements on policy matters have never lasted past a particular vote. I am appreciative of our ability to communicate and govern together for almost a decade and a half. You are a pillar of the City of Hendersonville. Thank you, Barbara, for your service.

"To the general public, you all should know that these four leaders are first and foremost, dedicated family members. They often talk about their families and what they are doing with them, whether as a mom, grandma or spouse. You should also know that sitting as a council member is not easy. There are complicated issues with many angles that have differing impacts on us all. I would hope that the general public would never refuse to have any of these members on council over to eat dinner, serve on a volunteer board, be in a meeting with you or just spend time with them just because they are council members. They are real people who are trying to do the best they can. You may disagree with them but please do respect them and what they are trying to do.

"Next, to the city staff, wow, what can I say. You are such a talented group of people. You take so much pride in what you do. You are enthusiastic, innovative and so much fun. You make being a civil servant cool. To our City Clerk Jill, thank you for your dedication as our clerk. I appreciate you looking after me when I needed some help. You have a warm and welcoming personality. You help keep us organized and take care of us. I thank you for your service to the city.

"To our City Attorney Angie (Beeker), I am so going to miss working with you. I love reading everything you write. I love talking legalese with you. And I love how you give Council such in-depth, analytical and well-timed advice. Lawyers rock and you are star for the city. I thank you for your service. Finally to our City Manager, John. I remember lobbying hard to hire you when you were applying for the manager position. Like a seasoned Major League manager, you know how to surround yourself with great talent and then let those talented people perform with confidence. There are so many crazy things that a city manager deals with on a daily basis. You handle them all with precision, like a highly-skilled artisan who is a master at their craft. And of course, your craft is making the wheels of government work for as many interested parties as possible. You also have provided me, and all the members of council, with hours and hours of great advice in discussing the issues of the day for council. You take great pride in this City. I know from talking to one of your colleagues, who is a mutual friend of ours, that you are regarded as one of the greatest city managers that we have. Thank you for working with me all these years and thank you for your service to the city.
"Next, I would like to thank my supporters. So many residents and business owners throughout the years have provided me with suggestions, advice, compliments and at times criticism that have been invaluable in helping me fulfill my role as a council member. I thank all the folks who have helped me through four campaigns, working the polls, talking to voters and sharing your time to help me get elected. And, I appreciate all the kind comments when I get thanked for what this fine staff does.

"My final thank you is for my family. Susan, thank you for supporting me on council all these years. Mom and Dad, I want to thank you too. As your son, I still want to make you proud. I know that you are proud of my time on council. You were both civil servants and I am happy I could follow in your footsteps. Dad, I appreciate you helping me campaign. From the phone calls in which you explained to people that you are Jerry Smith (the senior) campaigning for me, the junior, to working the polls and making friends with everyone out there, including my competition, you have been a tremendous support for me. A lot of people know me as the other Jerry Smith.

"Mom, I appreciate you sporting a Jerry Smith bumper sticker on your car, all the time, regardless of whether it was an election year or not. Mom, I also appreciate you asking how my meetings went with a sincere desire to see how I was doing. I love you both very much. To the best kids in the whole world, Martha, Miriam and JT. I have also wanted you to be proud of me. For most of your lives, I have been on council. I know that you don’t always know what I do, but I do know that you understand that city government is important. I am incredibly fortunate that two of you got a chance to vote for me as your council member. What an awesome thing for a dad to be able to say. I love being your dad, even when it hurts sometimes. Of all the various roles I have played in this life, being your father is the one of which I am most proud and for which I am most thankful. I love you Martha. I love you Miriam. I love you JT.

"To my sweet, beautiful and caring wife Anne, thank you for supporting me through this city council journey. From taking care of the house while I was at meetings to making phone calls during campaigns to working the polls on election day, you have been my number one teammate as a council member. So many times, I would come home from a meeting, and you would personally thank me for my service to the City. I have always appreciated that. You have prayed for me and my well-being for so long. I am lucky to have been married to you for 28 years, half of which I have been on council. You also care deeply for this City and I appreciate your undying support. I love you dear. Te quiero muchisimo.

"To the residents of Hendersonville, I do not know what the future holds. I look forward to helping my city in other ways. Who knows what the next chapter will hold in my service to the city. Thank you."

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