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Smith walks familiar trail

By Staff
CAMPAIGN n Mayor John Robert Smith discusses a campaign issue with Felecia Brown Friday afternoon. Photo by Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star.
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
April 28, 2001
Mayor John Robert Smith is a veteran door-to-door campaigner, but says he still loves it.
Smith's re-election campaign has raised almost $40,000. Although most of the money has been earmarked for advertising and commercials, he said he feels more of a connection with voters when he campaigns door-to-door.
Talking to the voters
Smith's strategy Friday was anything but political. He didn't explain his platform and he didn't talk about what he intends to do if re-elected. He simply met people and asked for their votes.
Although Smith didn't talk about his accomplishments, he gladly handed out pamphlets on his background and the progress he feels his administration has made.
Listed in the pamphlet are downtown renovation projects like the Marks/Opera House renovation and Amtrak service from Meridian to Dallas. Smith also listed projects like Meridian's designation as the site for the Southern Arts and Entertainment Center and the Super Wal-Mart/Lowe's complex, which he says will bring more jobs to Meridian.
While strolling up and down neighborhoods, Smith was not only a candidate, but the incumbent mayor as well answering occasional city-related questions from citizens like Felecia Brown. Smith answered her questions and gave her his office number.
Quick-paced campaign
Working with five other campaign volunteers, including his daughter, Kennedy, and son, Randolph, Smith covered city blocks on foot in minutes.
Veteran volunteers joked that walking the trail with the mayor is like the "John Robert Smith Weight Watchers Program." Smith said by the end of the campaign, he expects to lose half a waist size in his pants.
Smith tried to personalize his approach.
He usually writes little notes for people he knows on pamphlets, which he sticks in the door if they're not home. On this day of walking the neighborhoods, Smith was assured by residents over and over that he has their votes.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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