After 26 years of service, S.C. Rep. Roland Smith, R-Aiken, officially announced on Monday morning that he will not run for re-election.
Smith said he will be retiring at the end of his 26th term. Soon to be 81 years old on Feb. 26, Smith had already made up his mind that he would not run for re-election; however, he wanted to announce it during the Jan. 13 Aiken County Legislative Delegation meeting. Monday's early announcement is due to several leaks about his retirement, Smith said.
“I want everybody who has intentions on running for the seat to have all the information about me not be running,” he said. “There have been several rumors about it, so I wanted to go ahead and announce it before more rumors came out.”
Smith said he wanted to be there for his wife, who has had medical problems. Also, he said he has developed arthritis and was wearing a brace most of the time in order to do his job the right way.
Smith said he has no intentions of staying in politics.
“You should never say never, but I have no intention to run for another office,” he said. “I have returned all of the campaign contribution checks I've received for re-election, and I've made my mind up. I will have served the Aiken delegation for the last 18 years at the end of this term.”
Smith has a decorated history in South Carolina. He began serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives in March 1989 and has been an elected representative for nearly 26 years. In addition, Smith is a former chairman of the House Ethics Committee, which oversees the actions of legislators in the House.
In 2012, Smith was chair of the committee when Gov. Nikki Haley was under investigation for alleged illegal lobbying as a state representative. Smith was part of the majority that voted she was not guilty of such allegations.
Locally, Smith's impact can be seen in several areas. He served as commander of the Beech Island Rural Community Water District for 10 years and on the Aiken County Board of Education for six years.
Former S.C. Rep. Skipper Perry, R-Aiken, spoke about Smith's contributions.
“He was a jewel to work with. That man had more compassion for people than any five people up there (at the State House),” Perry said. “He cared about the people he represented as much or more than anybody I know.”
Other committees Smith has served on include the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee and the Property and Casualty Insurance Subcommittee.
“It's been a pleasure and an extreme honor to serve Aiken County for 26 years,” he added. “The delegation works in real harmony together, and we've made several decisions over the years to benefit this county.”
S.C. Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken, is one of those delegates and said he and Smith have worked together for a number of years.
“We've always had a strong working relationship and have collaborated on several issues,” Clyburn said. “Even though we worked in different bodies, we had common ground in working for the people, and that's what I've appreciated about him the most.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard.
He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @ DerrekAsberry.