OPINION: Commissioner Kerry Smith is a Tyrannical Hypocrite

Posted on September 26, 2023 by EDITORIAL BOARD

Smith pictured storming out of Monday’s meeting. He left the meeting twice while others were expressing their views on impact fees. 

Santa Rosa County District 2 Commissioner Kerry Smith is ok with the Board of County Commissioners taking action on an issue which isn’t noticed ahead of time on a meeting’s  agenda – but only as long as it suits his own personal agenda. Otherwise, he  becomes enraged and grandstands against it.

Yesterday Smith stormed out of a meeting, not once but twice, when he wasn’t getting his way and couldn’t stand to hear what others had to say about impact fees. 

Smith’s angry outbursts, coupled with his violent criminal record, have given rise to speculation that he might have a Napoleon complex. 

Court records from Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk Counties show Smith was arrested multiple times before relocating to Santa Rosa County. He was adjudicated guilty for a battery charge and also completed a pre-trial diversion program for a Domestic Violence Battery charge involving one of his ex-wives, Lisa, who told police “In 2003 he knocked the shit out of me. I called the police and he went to jail. He has knocked a dent in the wall from throwing me into a wall.”

Temper flares aside, let’s rewind back to May 25 when Smith made the surprise motion to replace long-time Marine Advisory Committee member Pasco Gibson with Democrat Shana Alford. That meeting’s agenda only referred to appointing Alford, not removing Gibson, who had been a volunteer member of that committee for 15 years and was serving as its chairman at the time. Gibson said he and his wife started receiving questions from the community asking why he quit. So on June 19 Gibson showed up for a county commission meeting to let the community know he did not resign and was shocked to find out he had been replaced. Gibson said Smith had been “dishonest” about the matter.

Fast forward to the county’s September 19 budget hearing when the board made a 4-1 decision to wait until October 2024 to reconsider implementing impact fees due to the negative impact of the nation’s economy on families who would be impacted by the fees. Smith was the sole vote in opposition and directed staff to add another impact fee discussion on Monday’s committee meeting agenda.

“The way we did that the other night I don’t think that was the best route,” Smith said of the Sept. 19 decision. “We brought a pretty contentious topic to the board at the end of the meeting. It was obvious that I was caught off guard by it.” Smith tried to assert that the board basically directed staff to drop work on impact fees.

District 3 Commissioner James Calkins corrected Smith, noting the board only decided not to reconsider implementing them before next year.

Shortly thereafter Smith stormed out of the meeting twice, including once when Calkins was speaking and another time when District 2 resident Mike Stevens spoke out against impact fees. 

Kerry is paid well to sit in that District 2 seat, so he needs to stay in it during meetings, especially when a District 2 constituent is speaking out on an important issue.

District 4 Commissioner Eddington said he would like to see a committee stood up to look further into details involving impact fees. “I’m not for impact because I know it’s going to go to impact the buyers, the young people.” 

Eddington went on to state the board has stopped Calkins from making impromptu motions which were not on the agenda and said the board was wrong to take the Sept. 19 vote. However, Eddington then turned around later in Monday’s committee meeting, proposing county commissioners end their practice of hosting meetings in South Santa Rosa County once per quarter, an issue which was not noticed on Monday’s agenda.

Smith seconded Eddington’s unnoticed motion, which was tabled until the Oct. 9 committee meeting. Smith failed to get support to add impact fees to that Oct. 9 agenda, so he said he will repeat what he did on Monday and add it as a commissioner item for discussion.

We believe Smith needs to practice what he preaches. Kerry has made and seconded motions that were not on a published agenda so his grandstanding over others doing so is hypocritcal.

He also needs to do a much better job controlling his temper and staying in his seat during meetings.