Published on November 9th, 2017 | by Brittain Thompson0
Carlton Smith: The Social Justice Candidate for District 1
Carlton Smith is a Holly Springs native, Howard University Alumni, and he wants to bring a sense of social justice to the District 1 seat. After leaving Holy Springs for college and then spending much of his adult life in the Washington D.C., metro New York, and Greater Boston area he headed back home to Mississippi.
“I believe that is one of the benefits of my candidacy, that I have experience outside of the state that can be brought back to Mississippi and be leveraged for the benefit of Mississippians,” said Smith.
Smith is still fine tuning his exact platform around the issues that he hears his fellow Mississippians raising.
“The large issues I’m hearing about have to do with education of our young people, healthcare, and employment opportunities, so those are the things I’m focusing on,” said Smith. “Those issues are interwoven because employers coming to the area are interested in having employees and employees are interested in having quality schools for their children and opportunities for good healthcare.”
Smith outlined his plan for tackling the concerns of his constituents.
“It would take on a coupe different approaches,” said Smith. “One is figuring out how we can increase opportunities and make it attractive for people who might even be independent contractors to move here.”
Smith also references that increasing the availability of reliable internet access as a way to bring more work to the state.
“I work for a denomination called the Unitarian Universalist Association which is based in Boston,” said Smith. “Because I work regionally and have good access to internet I am able to work remotely from North Mississippi…but in our overwhelmingly rural district access is spotty.”
Rural internet access fees typically run high and Smith is aware of this which pushes net neutrality to the forefront for him.
“I think that net neutrality is very important so that the consumer can have access to the internet,” said Smith. “That is one of the things I would be strongly advocating for.”
As with most modern campaigns, Smith plans to hit social media hard to spread information and awareness.
“I’ll be using electronic communication to reach out to people online through my website and through twitter,” said Smith. “As we’ve seen with the current administration in Washington they’ve been very effective at getting information out through social media so that will be key to connecting with people.”
With the limited internet access in mind, Smith is ready for some old-fashioned campaigning.
“We’ll be creating opportunities for personal, face to face encounters as well,” said Smith. “I’m looking at staying connected with democratic leaders in each of the counties and using my informal network of friends, family, and associates. I want to make myself available.”
Smith feels what sets himself apart fellow democratic candidate Randy Watkins is his strong focus on social-justice.
“Randy is running on primarily a science platform, and I am a pro-science person, but what I’m bringing to the equation is my commitment to social-justice and social-activism as well as being in touch with people from that stand point and working from that angle.”
During the Unite-the-Right rally in Charlottesville, Smith was protesting the alt-right assembly.
“I was one of the clergy that were part of the peaceful, non-violent protest,” said Smith. “It was a day of making life and death choices. I could very much feel that from moment to moment. It was sad to look around at all of these young men with all of this energy but would not allow for a vision that was not of supremacy in the country.”
Smith’s desire to run for the district 1 seat is less about removing incumbent Trent Kelly as it is about wanting to help shape his home state for the better.
“It has more to do with my desire to serve, to leverage my life experience in a way that could make a difference in the lives of Mississippians and a commitment to a better Mississippi,” said Smith. “It’s important to have voices of reasons…who are willing to represent those who have been marginalized and oppressed.”