By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The smile and warm greeting from Danny Smith is always the same — whether it be at a Laurel County Fiscal Court meeting, at church, with his family, or out in the community.
His good-natured attitude is because Smith depicts the word “happy.”
“I enjoy this job,” he says of his role as magistrate of the county’s 2nd District. “I meet interesting people and it’s always good to try and help.”
Now in his first term representing his district in the county government, his win was a challenge, competing for the Republican nomination for magistrate against seven other candidates in May 2010. Once that hurdle was overcome, Smith again had to take his chances against a Democrat opponent in the general election the following November.
Smith won the election and was sworn in and took office on Jan. 3, 2011, along with the county’s other five magistrates. Although the faces changed on the fiscal court, Smith was the only “newcomer” to the county government roster. Newly elected magistrates for District 3, Teddy Benge, and District 5 magistrate Billy Oakley were new to the current magisterial lineup although both had served in that capacity in prior years.
“The (2010) Census has my district with six precincts — Fariston, Fariston No. 2, McHargue, Springcut, Lily and Felts,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in politics and I ran because I wanted to make a difference. This is a very humbling experience.”
Between his magistrate duties, Smith is very involved with his church, Merrimack Missionary Baptist, where he is the pastor. Late last summer, Smith accompanied a group on a mission trip to Santarem, Brazil, where he was involved in conducting Bible School, church services and food distribution, to name a few. His group also included registered nurses, optometrists, and medical physicians who did prescription eyeglass clinics and medical work for the natives in the area.
“I have a friend in Somerset who is a native to Brazil and we went with him,” he explained.
His family members tell how Smith’s daughter carried his picture in her purse to school with her every day and slept with his picture beside her in bed each night during his absence from home.
“My wife said I might not be able to go back,” he laughed.
Aside from his magistrate, church and family obligations, Smith likes to fish and hunt.
“I’m also a carpenter,” he said. “I’m self-employed and am building us a house right now. That’s something else I’ve always done. I’ve always liked doing that.”
For Smith, liking what he is doing is utmost in the role of life.
“I used to work at Flav-O-Rich, driving a truck but something kept telling me to do something else,” he said. “I do have a little more time to spend with my family with this job (magistrate).”
Although he brings in less money as a self-employed carpenter and on the magisterial salary than before, Smith believes he is doing what is best for himself and his family.
“Money’s not everything,” he said. “Liking what you do is.”