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Dr. Vernon G. Smith seeks another term

Dr. Vernon G. Smith, State Representative – 14th House District, announced that he will seek another term in the Indiana General Assembly.

Smith was elected in a special election to complete the term of former Representative Earline Rogers,14 in 1990. Rogers had assumed the senate position of the late Senator Carolyn Mosby.  In addition to the partial term, Smith has served thirteen consecutive terms.

A past principal of several Gary elementary schools, Smith is a professor of education at Indiana University Northwest. He is the coordinator of the Educational Leadership Program, which prepares teachers to be principals.  Smith is active in numerous civic organizations and leads many non-profit causes. He is President and Founder of the I. U. Dons, Inc., Board Chairman of the African American Achievers Youth Corps, Inc., President and Founder of Focus Hope, Vice-President of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana, Board Member of Brothers Keeper, Board Member of the Indiana Commission of the Social Status of Black Men, and Board Member of the Indiana Commission for a Drug Free Indiana. He is also the National Chairman of the African American Male National Council.

Smith is the recipient of over 200 awards for his community service. Among them are the 2007 Mental Health America Hoosier Idol Award, 2007 Parent Leadership Council Partners’ Leadership Award, 2005 Welsh-Bowen Distinguished Public Official Award, the 2004 10th District of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Omega Man of the Year, the 2003 Alpha Kappa Kappa Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Omega Man of the Year Award and Citizens of the Year Award; the 2002 Gary Frontiers Marchers Award; the 1995 Carolyn Mosby Above and Beyond Award; the 1999 NAACP Mary Ovington Award; the 1993 Walter J. Rooda Poor Relief Award Reform Award; the 1993 Gary Community Mental Health Board Member of the Year Award; and the 1991 Indiana University Northwest Educator of the Year Award.

Smith said he is proud of his track record in the Legislature; he was the first freshman to serve as a committee chairman and was successful in getting more bills passed than any other Northwest Indiana legislator in his freshman year. He has served as assistant majority floor leader and assistant minority floor leader.  He has served as Chairman of the Family, Children, and Human Affairs Committee, the Local Government Committee and the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus. Presently he is the ranking minority member in the House Education Committee.

Smith said he has an impressive record of getting legislation passed. According to him, the average legislator gets one to two bills passed per session. He indicated that the times the Democrats have had control of the House, he has averaged 4-6 bills per session.  He has gotten as many as 10 bills passed out of the House during a session. During the last decade with the Republicans in control, Smith said, he has had success in getting a precious few bills, but he has co-authored many bills.

Among Smith’s legislative accomplishments are a bill to create the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males, a bill to offer “good time” credit for inmates who get an education; a bill to implement tire recycling; a bill to protect employees who use tobacco products outside of the work place; a bill to create an airport development zone for the Gary Airport; a bill to prohibit the use of beepers and cellular phones by children in schools; and a bill to provide paper ballots at polling sites when voting machines break down.  Smith also authored and led to passage H.B. 1272 which will allow Gary, Hammond and East Chicago to hold property tax sales when the County fails to do so.

Smith said he will continue to focus on economic development for Gary, Merrillville, Griffith and Hobart, improvements in education across the state, improvements in the conditions in state prisons, improved health care provisions for Hoosiers, and matters that will lead to improvements in the general welfare of people.

“I believe in a representative form of government,” Smith said. “It is because of this that I do my best to represent the will and express the concerns of the people.  I stay in contact with my constituents and I am honored that the people of my district allow me to serve them,” Smith concluded.

This year marks 46 continuous years in public office for Smith.  He served 18 years as a city councilman representing the 4th District of Gary.


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