ABOUT REPRESENTATIVE STEPHEN STAT SMITH
Brought up in the Everett Housing Projects, educated in Everett Public Schools, and trained in the rough and tumble of Everett Politics, Stat Smith is the consummate Everett State Representative.
He is a no-nonsense, honest, and tireless worker for the people of Everett.
Under his tenure, the City of Everett has received the most generous Municipal Aid Package in its history and the Everett Public Schools have received record amounts of state aid. The Everett Police and Fire Departments have received stimulus and grant money to supplement their public safety budgets to ensure no police or firefighter layoffs.
Highly respected by leadership and all of his colleagues for his work ethic, Representative Smith has proven to be an effective and productive state legislator. The City of Everett and its residents have benefited tremendously during his short time on Beacon Hill. Let's keep him there!
Street smarts give Smith his edge
Everett leader brings tenacious style to State House (Article by John Laidler, Globe North 2006)
Growing up in Everett's housing projects, Stephen "Stat" Smith learned from his mother to be diligent.
"My mother always worked. She did whatever she could," Smith said of Betty Lakey-Smith. "That's probably where I got some of my work habits from."
His work ethic - and relentless determination - has served Smith well over the years, as both a small business owner and an aspiring politician. Those qualities helped the Everett alderman outpace two opponents in the Democratic primary and Everett Common Councilor John Hickey, running as an Independent, in last month's general election to fill the 28th Middlesex House seat, which has been vacant since the death of eight-term incumbent Edward G. Connolly in May.
As he savors the chance to serve his city on Beacon Hill, Smith, 51, said he hopes the accomplishment will inspire others who have faced similar challenges.
"They have to realize that even if you come from situations that are difficult, you can succeed in this life with hard work and staying focused," he said.
A former Everett mayor, David Ragucci, said Smith's dogged nature will serve him - and the city - well when he heads to the State House. The 28th Middlesex District covers all of Everett and a Malden precinct.
Smith "is really a wonder when if comes to hard work," he said. "No one can out-campaign him. When he sinks his teeth into an issue, he's tenacious at it... He's a tough street kid from Everett, and that's what we like representing us on the Hill."
Smith is wasting no time getting started. Though he will not be sworn in until Jan. 3, he visits the State House almost every weekday, getting a feel for the building and the players.
"I'll walk around and find out what representatives are in and just introduce myself and have coffee with them," said Smith. "They've all been very receptive."
He's also had several meetings with House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi.
"I'm more than excited," he said. "After the election, it was more of a feeling of relief. I never get too high or too low. I've lost a lot of elections and won some. What's exciting to me now is going to the State House. I've sat at Calvin Coolidge's desk a couple of times. I think about who's been there.... Now I'm going to be a part of that process"
In assuming a seat previously held by Connolly and his predecessor, George Keverian, who served as House Speaker, Smith acknowledged that he has big shoes to fill. But he said the skills he has learned in his home city will help.
"The rough and tumble of Everett politics prepares you for the State House," he said.
Colin Kelly, director of the Everett Chamber of Commerce and a former common councilor, thinks Smith is up to the task.
He's a likeable guy that's willing to work with the powers that be at the State House," Kelly said. "And I think he's proved here in the city that he's a quick learner. I expect he will learn quickly up there and I expect he'll be fine."
Smith said he plans to advocate for more local aid as a way of relieving pressure on property taxes, and is encouraged that Governor-elect Deval Patrick has expressed support for the goal. Smith also hopes to secure funds to renovate Everett Stadium and to press for an increase in the amount the city receives for public safety.
"If you look at the numbers, Everett's been a little short-changed," he said.
Even as he prepares for his new post, Smith has no immediate plans to leave his current one. He said his plan - though it is subject to change - is to fill out the remaining year of his term as Ward 3 alderman, though he will not run again for the seat.
"I think it's a great benefit to have the state representative right there at local meetings," he said.
Smith grew up in Everett's Woodlawn housing project. His parents divorced when he was young, so he and his brother lived with their mother, a customer service representative for car rental companies and, later, airlines. On weekends they visited their father, the late George Smith, who was disabled.
While the family "didn't have much," Smith said, the projects were "a great place to grow up. There were hundreds of kids. Every time you went out the door, people would be out there. We all went to school together."
Smith worked part-time jobs growing up, starting with a paper route. While attending Everett High, he worked at a sub shop and in bicycle repair shops. Following graduation in 1973, he worked for his uncle's fence-installation business, continuing for 20 years, during part of which he also worked nights as a customer service agent for Delta Airlines.
Along the way, "I saved my money and invested in real estate," said Smith, who manages his properties, including the Prescott Hotel in Everett. He and his wife, Judy, have four children, one of whom, Stephanie V. Smith, is an Everett common councilor.
Smith broke into politics in 1993, when he upset the incumbent, Joseph Marchese, in a race for Ward 3 alderman.
After his initial success, he lost bids for mayor in 1995, alderman at large in 1997, and Ward 3 alderman in 1999, before winning a Ward 3 common councilor seat in 2001.
He won reelection in 2003 and ran successfully for Ward 3 alderman in 2005. In between, in 2004, he lost a bid to unseat Connolly as state representative.
Smith has never let his defeats discourage him.
"I get knocked down, I dust myself off and give it another attempt with a smile on my face," he said. "I just go out trying to work harder."