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Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith discovers his bliss locally

Union Leader Correspondent

October 06. 2013 8:54PM
Former Republican state representative and 2012 gubernatorial candidate Kevin Smith said “government truly begins at a local level.” (APRIL GUILMET PHOTO)

LONDONDERRY — Town Manager Kevin Smith, who moved into Londonderry’s “oval office” just six weeks ago, said he feels like he’s “finally hit the trifecta” of public service.

Smith, 36, says that although he never imagined himself in the role of town manager, it now seems the natural progression for a career that has included state and federal service.

“I now realize that government truly begins at a local level,” the 1994 Londonderry High School graduate said last week. “That’s where you can truly get things done.”

The married father of three said his interest in public service and politics began at a very young age, and he decided to run for a state representative seat when he was just barely out of high school.

Still living at home and commuting to classes at University of New Hampshire’s Manchester campus, the 19-year-old Smith threw his hat in the ring in 1996 and, to his surprise, quickly won over voters.

“I jumped right into it,” he said, though after serving for a single term he decided to back away from politics to focus on completing his college degree.

Over the years Smith, who lives in Litchfield, has worked for former U.S. Sen. Smith and former Gov. Craig Benson, and served as executive director of Cornerstone Action, a conservative advocacy organization. In 2012, he ran for governor but lost in the Republican primary to Ovide Lamontagne.

Through it all, he’s continued to emcee the local Lancers football games, as he’s done for nearly two decades.

His parents have lived in Londonderry since 1986, and Smith said his father, Bruce, has always been one of his greatest role models.

“He’s a self-made man who never went to college,” the younger Smith said. “But he’s the hardest worker I’ve ever known. He taught me so much, and it’s such a great feeling to have made him proud.”

Smith said he wouldn’t have considered such a role “in any town other than Londonderry,” though he had ruled out running for public office several months before submitting his application.

“I have such a long history with this town,” he said. “It’s a deep personal affection for Londonderry. So when I learned about the town manager position, it just seemed like the perfect fit for me.”

With many changes now under way in Londonderry, Smith said he hasn’t had much spare time to question his decision.

Just three weeks into his new job, plans for the long-awaited Woodmont Commons development were conditionally approved, and Smith said he hopes the development of Pettengill Road isn’t too far behind.

“This is certainly an exciting time to be in Londonderry,” he said. “We have two of the state’s largest developments happening right here, and this town has a great vision for the future.”

“So I think now is the time to strike while the iron’s still hot,” Smith said.

He’s still learning the ropes, but he said his most pressing concern is bringing those two projects to fruition, while making sure the town remains a great place to live for all its residents.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to serve the citizens,” said Smith.

With his days of campaigning now over, Smith said it’s been refreshing to step back from politics and focus on the tasks at hand from a nonpartisan seat.

“You know, it’s actually a very nice change for me,” he said.

NH People Politics Londonderry Photo Feature

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