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Eric Smith--A Quorum Call From State to Local Government

Post # 170, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary

Few members of the House of Representatives combined a rapier wit with such a razor sharp mind like Eric Smith.

Senator Bob McKnight, 1978

The text book career plan for most politicians is to start local--say, at the school board level, then go to the city commission, to the county commission and then on to state office--say, State Representative or Senator. From there the choices are typically regional or state wide--say, Congress, Governor, or U.S. Senator. If you look at the careers of most of the politicians you know, my guess is over 60% of them will have followed a similar career path progression.

One who did not and is a dear friend is former State Representative Eric Smith (D., Jacksonville). We served together in the Florida House of Representatives in the early '70's.

Rep. Smith served with distinction rising to the Chairmanship of a major Select House Committee on Organized Crime. Few members of the House of Representatives combined a rapier wit with such a razor sharp mind like Eric Smith. From that important position of power, most of us serving with him felt that Eric would be a logical candidate for the Congress or perhaps State Attorney in Jacksonville. But he elected to return to his law practice and lay the foundation for his career in the media, primarily television commentary.

Eric subsequently 'broke all the rules' by announcing his candidacy for a seat on the Jacksonville City Council. With the city being the largest geographic city in the state, it really was not a step back, but seemed to be at first blush. Eric easily won his seat and began to feel comfortable at the local level. He decided to remain there for 20 years, rising to the all powerful position as City Council President. Eric had successfully re-engineered his political career to become a serious candidate for the Congressional seat being abandoned in Jacksonville by longtime member Ander Crenshaw (R. Fl.). Eric decided against making that race, re-directing his energies to his law practice and the possibility of Cuba businesses opening up after Castro's death.

Eric Smith--not the typical politician, for which his Jacksonville constituents are forever grateful. He answered his Quorum Call from state to local government.



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