“We all begin with a dream,” said Albemarle native Jerrod Smith at the start of his January 18 campaign announcement. He’s hoping to snag the Rivanna District seat on the Board of Supervisors with a campaign called the “dream infrastructure.”
And it starts with finding new solutions to an age-old issue in Albemarle: lack of high-speed internet access across its rural areas, he said.
“If we’re not connected to the world, we won’t be able to succeed,” Smith told a crowd of about 30 people who came out to support him.
The PRA Health Services employee and former Albemarle Democratic Committee co-chair, who also serves on the Places29 Advisory Committee, said he also wants to make Albemarle more friendly to businesses.
And when it comes to education, this candidate, who grew up in the Albemarle public school system, said he wants to increase focus on technology in the classroom, and destigmatize trade schools such as CATEC, which often aren’t thought of as an economic pathway to success, he said.
“I know this because it is my personal experience,” said Smith. “These people are the backbone of our society.”
Upon graduating from Albemarle High, Smith attended Bucknell University, and then received a master’s degree in public policy at UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy in 2013. He became a mayoral fellow the following year in Chicago, where he said the major issues regarding inequality, public housing, and infrastructure are very similar to those in Albemarle.
Among those who attended Smith’s announcement was Supervisor Norman Dill, who currently holds the Rivanna chair and is not seeking re-election. Several family members also filled the room.
“We’ve been supportive of Jerrod since he was yay high,” said his aunt, Tawuan Smith, while extending one hand below her knee. She said her nephew has always been very knowledgeable about the issues in the community.
Added his aunt, “He knows how to make things happen.”