Scott Smith: Hardly incognito

Sandra ClarkGossip and Lies

My office window overlooks my driveway and front door. My senior security officer, SSO Big Dog, usually sleeps on the rug at the front door, which we leave open. So, we’re trudging along on Saturday when the SSO barks once and goes back to sleep. I look up to see Scott Smith, one of five guys running for clerk of Circuit Court, walking away.

Scott drove off before I could holler. He had left some interesting campaign literature.

Then on Facebook on Monday I spotted this note: “58 signs this weekend. Not bad for the business owner in the race who works every day. WHO WANTS A SIGN?

If shoe leather can win this race, Scott is a sure bet. His mom, Shirley, is helping. The Smiths are good people. I grew up just down the road from them and went to school with Scott’s aunt Polly. In fact, I was a minor player in her wedding, but that’s another story.

Scott ran for state representative in 1994, when Bill Dunn won the multi-candidate primary so handily that I don’t think anyone’s run against him since.

We next heard from Scott in 2012, in a story Cindy Taylor wrote for the old newspaper: “Can a Centurion become an angel? He can when it is Scott Smith.

“Smith, who is also a minister, retirement planner, radio show host and founder of Scott Smith Insurance, has been a part of the Knoxville Nativity Pageant since 2000. His first role was as Roman Centurion.”

Smith told Taylor he was “too nice a guy” to play that role, so when he was offered the role of Gabriel, “I jumped at it.”

Scott is sometimes mistaken for another Scott Smith of roughly the same age. West Knox’s Scott Smith serves on the Metropolitan Planning Commission and runs Volunteer Realty, a company founded by his dad, Gordon Smith.

North Knox’s Scott Smith works in real estate and insurance. And he’s an angel every December.

This May 1 Republican Primary for clerk is hard to call. Based on name recognition (his dad’s, actually) the favorite is Charlie Susano. He seems to be backed by incumbent Cathy Quist Shanks and much of the office staff. Tim Wheeler has support as well, along with huge billboards across town. He’s a former office manager for Quist who was terminated/quit under conditions that ended up in court.

The wild card is Bo Bennett, who jumped in late with no apparent financial backing, but has good name recognition, at least in North Knox where he ran against county commissioner Charles Busler in 2014.

The dark horse is Don Ridings, whose chief asset is his wife, Linda, a marketing genius. As Linda Parrent, she introduced eWomen to Knoxville and built a mighty network. Don’s been called the shadow candidate. Although his website says he’s been a successful business owner in Knoxville for 30 years, the site is sparse on details.

Scott Smith, 49, claims to have voted in every election since he was 18. He serves on the Republican State Executive Committee. He says Susano voted in Democratic primaries prior to 2006, and Ridings didn’t even register to vote in Knox County until 2015.

He left verification of these claims on my doorstep last Saturday.

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