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Businessman Smith Hopes to Break into Politics

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – Michael Smith does not see himself as a politician, but rather a regular resident of Westchester County.

"I see myself as a citizen legislator," Smith said. "I want to do what's good for the community and I have certain skills that I can lend.”

As the Republican candidate for the District 3 County Legislator, Smith is challenging incumbent John Nonna. The two candidates that are campaigning for the same spot have two different backgrounds. Nonna has a background in politics after formerly serving as a trustee and mayor in the Village of Pleasantville. Smith, however, has a background in business as a certified public accountant and the chief financial officer of Berkeley Educational Services, a company of about 1,500 employees.

Smith feels that his business background can be a useful resource in the county legislative office. He said that one of the most important issues for him is the promotion and sustainability of small local businesses in Westchester. Smith feels that creating jobs and keeping a steady cash flow within the county can help the tax burden and aid in debt relief.

"Westchester County has a lot of financial problems right now. I have a background in finance and a lot of the current county legislators have a background in law" Smith said. "When you have a plumbing problem, you call a plumber to fix it."

Despite his urge to run for county legislator, Smith admits that this is something he wants to do temporarily to fix problems within the county that he believes are important.  Smith does not see himself climbing the political ranks as other county legislators may wish.

"I have a full-time job, I have no greater aspirations to do this other than to serve the people on a part-time basis," Smith said. Smith recently served as the president of the Valhalla Union Free School District Board of Education up until this year and has been a member of the board since 2005.

After realizing there were unresolved issues in the district that Smith wanted to change, he was inspired to run for a position on the board. It is that same mindset that inspired Smith to run for county legislator.  Smith feels issues, such as county flooding and reconstruction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, have been mishandled by his opponent Nonna and other county legislators.

"I feel a lot of politicians will hold press conferences and will get up on grandstands to talk about issues and what their goals are but afterwards nothing gets done," Smith said. "I want people to see me as their neighbor, and I want to get things done."

Smith has been a resident of Westchester County for 30 years and is married with two kids. The District 3 County Legislator position encompasses all or parts of Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville, Sleepy Hollow, Greenburgh,  North Castle, and Briarcliff Manor.

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