Opinion: Progress and Promise: Reflecting on my first year as a Lexington Town Councilman

By Gavin J. Smith
Posted 5/30/24

In the days following the announcement of my campaign for Lexington Town Council, whether it be while knocking on doors, eating in restaurant or shopping at local businesses, I was often asked why I was running for council.

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Opinion: Progress and Promise: Reflecting on my first year as a Lexington Town Councilman


In the days following the announcement of my campaign for Lexington Town Council, whether it be while knocking on doors, eating in restaurants or shopping at local businesses, I was often asked why I was running for council.

Without hesitation, I frequently shared a story about wanting to be a doctor since I was a young child. I was determined to be a pediatric oncologist, but, after enrolling at the University of South Carolina and facing head-on the challenges of organic chemistry, it became quite apparent that practicing medicine likely wasn’t in the cards for me.

Despite feeling a bit defeated by molecular structures and having to alter course on my career path, I quickly found public service and learned that when done right, by those who have good, honest intentions, and those who will put in the work, you can, like in medicine, make a difference in the lives of others.

I shared this reason proudly with anyone who asked why I was running, knowing good and well that my intentions were well-meaning and that I was not running in hopes of personal gain or to advance the agenda of any special-interest group.

And while the council chambers is certainly not the doctor’s office I had once hoped to work in, serving you on council over this last year has become somewhat of a metaphorical operating room in which I’ve been afforded the opportunity to play a role in developing a care plan for our community while working alongside staff and other members of our council to directly assist citizens and business owners with an array of pressing matters.

From speeding concerns in neighborhoods to addressing stormwater drainage and fiberoptic cable installation issues or resolving zoning and planning matters, each request has represented a chance to make a tangible difference in someone’s life. It’s been this direct engagement –listening to residents, understanding their concerns and finding solutions – that’s been the most rewarding part of this job so far.

Amidst these day-to-day constituent service requests, our town has seen significant changes in leadership this year. Just two weeks after I was sworn in, our longtime town administrator announced his departure and council launched a nationwide search for a new town administrator. 

Only a few months later, council unanimously confirmed and welcomed Rachelle Gleaton as our new town administrator, and there in between, we also said goodbye to our longtime utilities director and municipal clerk while leading searches to fill their positions as well. These transitions have brought fresh energy and perspectives and have strengthened our capacity to serve our community effectively and efficiently. Simply put – they’re all rockstars and we’re lucky to have them.

In addition to strengthening our leadership team, we have made substantial progress in enhancing financial transparency and improving communication with our residents. We implemented new measures to ensure greater oversight of tax dollars via an online portal and conducted a comprehensive town-wide survey to better understand how we can best communicate with our citizens.

As a communications professional by trade, I am particularly proud of the way our staff has used the results of this survey to inform our communications methods and am grateful for the closer connection they are working to foster between our citizens and the Town of Lexington.

I am also particularly proud of our council for starting up a small business advisory committee. This committee, which will begin meeting in June 2024, is charged with serving as a voice for the small business community in our town and will study and make recommendations to council on topics such as developmental impact fees and how to improve the process of opening a new business in town.

Our community has also seen tangible improvements in parks and greenspace with the recent reopening of Virginia-Hylton Park, a beloved 15-acre park in the heart of downtown. Previous Councils before me led this effort, but I am proud to have played a small role in the re-opening of this gem in our community.

We’ve also made significant headway on road projects, including laying the groundwork for a soon-to-be-announced major interchange project, which promises to improve traffic flow and make daily commutes safer and more efficient for everyone in our community. Our traffic team has done all this while completing millions of dollars of intersection and road improvement projects across town.

Reflecting on my last year on the council—particularly my first year as a member of this body—I have learned so much and am so proud of what we’ve accomplished together.

While there is still much to be done, I see my role much like that of the dedicated doctor I once aspired to be—a doctor who is always on call, working to diagnose needs, prescribe effective solutions and ensure those around them are thriving, happy and healthy.

As we move forward and as I look ahead to year two of serving you on the Lexington Town Council, this is my promise to you: I will continue to work tirelessly alongside my fellow members of council and our town staff, with honesty and integrity prioritized above all else, to make our community the best it can be – while always believing the best is yet to come.

Gavin J. Smith, Lexington Town Council


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