Smithfield mayor bids farewell

Published 5:09 pm Monday, December 12, 2022

Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams bid farewell to his fellow Town Council members and the town’s staff at the conclusion of the council’s Dec. 6 meeting, stating he hopes to leave the locality “in good hands.”

Williams, whose term in office expires Dec. 31, received the fewest votes out of five candidates seeking four available council seats in the Nov. 8 election, bringing his 18 years in office, 10 as mayor, to an abrupt end.

His tenure began in 1992 when he was elected to his first four-year term. Williams then stepped down in 1996 and rejoined the council in 2007 to fill a vacant seat. His fellow council members, who elect the town’s mayor by voting among themselves, first named Williams to the position in 2012.

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Williams noted in his farewell remarks that he’d attended 18 Virginia Municipal League conferences and at least a dozen mayoral conferences during his tenure.

“You get to talk to a lot of people from the cities and the towns all over Virginia and you wouldn’t believe what respect this town has from all the rest. … I’ve talked to a lot of these mayors and they have a problem, infighting, not getting along, bickering, stabbing each other in the back; we have none of that,” Williams said. “This council has a saying. We agree to disagree. And we respect the other’s disagreement or their agreement, and it’s worked out beautifully.”

“For the 18 years that I’ve sat on this council it has been a pleasure, my pleasure, to work with this town doing everything that I’ve done,” Williams added, estimating roughly “75% of what I do is behind the scenes, helping this town be a better place, and volunteering.”

“It’s a wonderful town; I hope you all as council keep it going like it’s going because it’s going really, really good,” Williams said.

Roughly seven months prior to the election, Williams was named Smithfield’s 2022 Citizen of the Year, an award the town’s Ruritan and Rotary clubs have jointly given to an outstanding Smithfield resident annually since 1970. Williams’ son, Allen, who nominated his father for this year’s award, wrote in his nomination that the mayor had been “instrumental” in securing Windsor Castle Park, which opened in 2010, and had “worked feverishly” to secure property for the Joseph W. Luter Jr. Sports Complex, which opened in 2018. He’d also been involved “from its beginnings” in Smithfield’s years-long effort to transform the former Pinewood Heights neighborhood behind Smithfield Foods’ meatpacking plants into a town-owned industrial park.

Starting Jan. 1, as a result of the November election, Jeff Brooks and former Smithfield Police Chief Steve Bowman will take their seats as council members alongside incumbents Valerie Butler and Wayne Hall, who were reelected, and Randy Pack, Mike Smith and Renee Rountree, whose terms continue through 2024.