But in a letter sent tonight to all the aldermen, Smith says he would be willing to serve as Interim Mayor until a new mayor is elected.
I have been asked by numerous individuals to consider serving as Interim Mayor, and would be willing to serve if asked. I have no interest in running for mayor in the future, and pledge not to do so. But, because of my love for Racine and respect for the institution of the Office of Mayor, City employees and Racine residents, I would agree to be of service until a new mayor is elected by the voters. I would make a full-time commitment to the job of Interim Mayor and take a leave of absence from my current employment as a Realtor with Century 21 Savaglio & Cape.In the letter, Smith also noted that he had 10 years as an alderman and 8 as mayor, and is "uniquely qualified and would be able to step in immediately and get to work." He listed some of the accomplishments of his administration, including the regional sewer agreement, becoming an All-America City and consecutive National Make-A-Difference-Day awards, accomplished "because of the solid partnerships between aldermen, staff an citizens..."
Being away from the daily business of City Hall since leaving office in 2003, I would come in with a fresh perspective as well as knowledge of previous history. We need to stop the barrage of negative press about problems at City Hall so the city can move forward and restore Racine's reputation. By working together, we can rebuild trust, confidence and transparency to the office.
Many of you know me and have served with me. While at times we may have had differences of opinion, I respect the critical role of the City Council and each and every person who makes the decision to serve as an elected official. I have no political agenda except for what is in the best interest of the city and its residents. i would direct all my energy to work with each of you and believe that together we can restore the people's faith in City Hall.
Choosing Smith would allow the Council to avoid the "King-Maker" effect some members feared if they picked a sitting alderman as interim mayor... one who might then run for the post as the de facto incumbent. It would also avoid the problem any alderman would have relinquishing his or her district seat to take the Mayor's chair for just a few months, thus having to run again for alderman.
Keep in mind the irony if Smith does succeed Becker, even if just as Interim Mayor for a few months. City Hall watchers remember well the incident in 2006 in which Smith's wife, Joyce, called then-Police Chief David Spenner, to say she thought they'd seen Becker driving drunk. The inconclusive handling of that report led shortly to the departure of Spenner.
But whether City Council egos could be subsumed with such a selection is in question, especially as so many have already filed for the election, or are still considering filing. So far, the Council has voted to hold that election on June 2, but it won't be formally set until the Council meets again on Feb. 3. Smith said he had heard from three aldermen suggesting he offer himself up as Interim Mayor. I talked to another tonight -- one who wished to remain anonymous -- who said he thought it was a plausible idea; and this is an alderman who said he had clashed with Smith on many matters when they served together.
The council meets tomorrow at 6 p.m., as a Committee of the Whole, to decide how to move forward.