Four file for Smithfield Town Council seats

Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Four candidates to date have filed to be on the November ballot for four available seats on Smithfield’s Town Council.

Anyone else interested in running has until June 18 to submit nominating petitions bearing the signatures of at least 125 registered town voters. Candidates must also file a declaration of candidacy, certificate of candidate qualification and statement of economic interests. All forms are available for download at

According to Isle of Wight County Voter Registrar Lisa Betterton, Jim Collins, Michael Smith, Darren Cutler and Bill Harris each had turned in their paperwork as of June 10.

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Raynard Gibbs, whom the council appointed in December to fill the remainder of ex-Councilwoman Renee Rountree’s term, had not submitted the required documents as of June 10. Rountree resigned her council seat in December after being elected last November to represent the Smithfield-centric District 1 seat on the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors.

Voters can expect to see at least one new face on the council come January. Councilman Randy Pack confirmed to The Smithfield Times in April that he would not seek reelection.

Collins and Smith are incumbents. Smith, owner of M.G. Smith Building Co. in Suffolk, has served on the council since 2012 and was last elected in 2020 to a four-year term that expires at the end of the year. The council appointed Collins, a general contractor and member of Isle of Wight County’s Economic Development Authority, in December to fill the seat vacated by ex-Councilman Wayne Hall.

Collins, Cutler and Smith are each seeking four-year terms, Betterton said. Harris is running in a concurrent special election to fill the two-year remainder of Hall’s term. Isle of Wight County Electoral Board Secretary Geoff McFather advised in April that candidates must declare, also by June 18, whether they’re seeking one of the three available four-year terms or running for the two-year term in the special election.

Each voter can select up to three candidates on the ballot for the four-year term and a single candidate in the special election for the two-year term.

What I hope to achieve on council if elected is an easy answer for me,” Collins said. “I have no personal agenda in mind as I believe that is counterproductive to the purpose of serving in any office. But, I will be diligently working to be the best council member I can be to everyone in this awesome town by digging into the items brought before us and finding the logical path toward the best solution.”

Cutler, a medical physicist in diagnostic imaging, said he moved to Smithfield in late 2022.

“I was born and raised with small-town values in the wonderfully similar quaint town of Mount Airy, North Carolina,” Cutler said.

Smith, who owns a construction company, said his goals if reelected include a focus on town infrastructure and competitive pay for municipal employees, as well as “trying to maintain a quality product” with regards to approved and proposed housing developments in town.

Smith cited “expressed concern from many citizens who wanted me to stay on board” as influencing his desire to run for another four-year term.

“I thought it was important that I continue to represent the citizens,” Smith said.

Harris, a retired teacher and frequent speaker during the public comment period at Town Council meetings, asserts that “the concerns of a significant number of citizens have routinely been ignored.” He and Cutler each spoke against approving mixed-use zoning for the 267-home Grange at 10Main development at the western edge of the town’s historic district in December, and more recently on June 4 against the town matching a proposed $6 million donation from former Smithfield Foods Chairman Joseph Luter III, intended to beautify the intersection at Route 10 and Main Street near where his son, Joseph Luter IV, is developing the Grange. The donation is contingent on the town relocating its Farmers Market to the Grange development. Mayor Steve Bowman has said the entrance improvements, which would include a brick wall and welcome sign and brick sidewalks, would be located on town right-of-way.

Harris says he remains committed to “supporting reasonable, slow growth” and “low-density residential development within the town.”

“If we do not do something to hold the line against overdevelopment … we are sure to lose our small town identity,” Harris said, adding he is “opposed to using taxpayer money to support any aspect of private development.”