Local business owner, educator and community leader, James Smith, filed with the Harrison County Clerk on Friday as a candidate for mayor of Cynthiana.
Smith is a native of Cynthiana, co-owner of the Rohs Opera House, employee of Maysville Community and Technical College, and is serving his second term as president of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
A 1987 graduate of Harrison County High School, Smith went on to obtain a bachelors degree in political science from the University of Kentucky, a masters in teaching from the University of South Carolina, and has done graduate study at Cincinnati Bible Seminary and Morehead State University.
He is a veteran of the United States Army where he served from 1993-1997 in personnel administration. He has also spent over six years in the ministry, serving as senior minister of Mt. Carmel Christian Church and as leader of the Harrison County House Church Fellowship.
Smith has been involved in organizational leadership and training for almost 20 years. He spent six years working as operations manager of the Daniel Management Center at the University of South Carolina before moving back to Kentucky, and Cynthiana, as a trainer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
He teaches for Maysville Community and Technical College in the adult education program.
He frequently trains and consults for businesses and groups throughout the region.
In 2012, his book The House that Richard Built, peaked at No. 2 on the Amazon.com bestseller list for ebooks in the self help/marriage section.
Locally, Smith has been instrumental in reviving the Rohs Opera House with his other partners.
Together, they have expanded the business’ offerings and made the Rohs Opera House a destination for tourists from many surrounding counties and states.
That small business involvement led him to join the Chamber of Commerce board of directors in 2012. He was elected president of the board in 2013 and re-elected for 2014.
“I’ve always had a strong sense of community and love for Cynthiana,” said Smith of his decision to seek election. “My grandfather, Webber Davis, was sheriff here and I believe he instilled that sense of citizenship and duty in me. The community values I learned when earning Eagle Scout in Troop 60 also played a big part. Cynthiana is suffering from the same problems as every rural small town in America, but I see so much potential for revival here. I want to see Cynthiana become the city where my children and grandchildren find opportunity and prosperity.”
While acknowledging the steps the current commission have taken to move the city forward, Smith said he sees his greatest contribution to city government being in the area of planning.
“I’m a big planner and goal setter. I believe like Zig Ziglar says, ‘If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.’ Cynthiana and Harrison County need a long-range plan for economic and downtown business development and growth. We can’t wait for a big company like Toyota to discover Cynthiana and swoop in to save us. We have to take steps now to position ourselves for the next big economic boom in America. We have to address the quality of our workforce, the condition of our downtown business district and the services we provide businesses that want to grow. We don’t have a plan, in writing, with goals and benchmarks for us to hit along the way.”
Smith said he sees tremendous growth potential in the downtown, in tourism, and in service.
The success of the Rohs Opera House over the last few years is proof that Cynthiana still has the potential to support local business.
If elected mayor, Smith said he hopes to focus his leadership on helping other small businesses succeed.
Smith is married to Paula Smith and resides in the downtown area with his children and grandchildren.