Rep. Raymond Smith, D-Wayne, is a former Wayne County school board member with a diverse professional background. He’ll be wrapping up his two terms in the House later this year after redistricting left him in a Republican district, and he made an unsuccessful run for Senate instead. Incumbent Senator Toby Fitch of Wilson beat Smith in the May 17 primary.
But Smith isn’t done with politics, and he’s eyeing a run for lieutenant governor in 2024.
What are the current and past jobs you’ve held outside of politics? U.S. Army and Army Reserve with service in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm; correctional officer and probation officer; statewide planner with the N.C. Department of Transportation; transit authority executive director; middle school social studies teacher; community college adjunct instructor; and school bus transportation director
What lessons from those roles have you applied to your elected position? My military service has been valuable as a member of the Homeland Security and Military and Veterans Affairs Committee in the General Assembly. Having worked with human service agencies and councils of government across the state of N.C. was very beneficial when I was assigned to the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.
Having worked extensively in the transportation industry (federal, state and local) was very advantageous when I served on the House Transportation Committee. My background in both K-12 and Higher Education has been very useful as a member of the House Education - Community College Committee. Having a background in local government has been critical in my service to the House Local Government Committee. Lastly, my executive roles included human resources, grant management, procurement, finance, etc., has been helpful in my assignment to the House Finance Committee.
If you could enact a single piece of legislation into law today, what would it be? It would be the full funding of education. I firmly believe that a sound basic education system for all is the most effective way of addressing the issues of crime and poverty in our society.
Where do you most enjoy taking an out-of-town visitor in your district? I most enjoy taking out-of-town visitors to our award-winning downtown district in Goldsboro. It is truly an eclectic environment with tremendous character, which was made possible through a collaborative effort by all stakeholders at the federal, state and local level.
What is your favorite hobby outside of work? I thoroughly enjoy officiating high school and collegiate sports, especially football. I have had the privilege of officiating at the highest levels due to my love and commitment to the avocation. I also play a mean game of golf when my clubs choose to cooperate with my swing (LOL).
Who do you most admire, and why? I was fortunate in my upbringing to have come along at a time when there were many firsts. The first African-American to serve on the Board of Education in my community was my next-door neighbor Mr. P.A. Best Jr., the first African-American to serve on the City Council in my community was attorney Earl Whitted Jr., who lived up the street, the first African-American to serve on the County Commissioners in my community was Mr. Sherman Best, my father’s high school classmate. My mother, Thelma F. Smith, after retiring from a 38-year career in education, served on the Board of Education for 18 years in my community and was only the second African-American female to serve as chair of the board. Although these may not be household names across our state, these are the people that have had the most influence in my life, both politically and personally. I never had the need to look beyond my own environment for my heroes and sheroes.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about how to get legislation passed? In this extreme politically charged environment, it is imperative that you work across the aisle with the majority to get legislation passed. Unfortunately, often this means that you may not get named credit for the legislation.