Tony Smith, a former Senator in the Mississippi Senate, is running for Transportation Commissioner in the Southern District. He served in the Senate from 2012-2016, but did not run for reelection.

“As a conservative I felt like maybe we need a strong voice for South Mississippi to come and represent our needs and our concerns,” said Smith.

As a legislator, he said he was made more aware of the crumbling infrastructure plaguing the entire state. He said he felt like now might be the time for him to run and represent the southern portion of the state’s interests.

“You’ve got a lot of different areas, the costal area built on tourism, the Hattiesburg area the university, medical; southwest Mississippi is focused more on timber and over in the eastern side of the district you have a lot of farmers and nurseries,” said Smith.”I just feel like we need someone who has a business background and can bring that to the table.”

Smith currently lives in South Mississippi and owns and operates his own business, Stonewall’s BBQ located in Picayune. He is a graduate of Oak Grove High school and later went on to attend Pearl River Community College. He received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1986.

Smith said he believes he has been called to public service. He is a current alderman in Poplarville and said he has learned a lot from that experience, as it is a position where the ‘rubber meets the road.’

He said he believes that MDOT currently has a negative image in the state among constituents. He hopes that if elected he could help rebrand the organization.

“We need to be an agency that is lean and efficient,” said Smith. “When people see us out working, they need to see work getting done. It is really unfair to those MDOT workers that people stereotype them.” He said the men and women working for MDOT are working hard and need someone to be a voice for them while also looking out for the concerns of the people.

He said there is a lack of a concrete plan on how to address infrastructure needs at this point. He said one needs to be made and brought to the Legislature to consider, so they can figure out how to fund it.

Smith said he is a hard worker and prides himself on being a problem solver.

“So many times when you get elected you forget you work for the people. One of the things I believe the people in Pearl River County, where I’m from, will tell you, is I’ll be engaged, I’m passionate, I’m committed to the beliefs I have,” said Smith.

He said he hopes people see that he is a true public servant.

During his time in the Mississippi Senate he served as Vice Chair of the Local and Private Committee and on the Transportation, Education, Finance, Insurance, Public Health and Public Properties committees. He received the Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s Legislator of the Year award, the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Excellence award, the NFIB Business Champion and a A+ rating from BIPEC.