The following profile is one in a series of stories profiling candidates for the upcoming municipal election May 2.
BY LANDON WOODROOF
Whether as a parent, a businessperson or a politician, Regina Smithson has a rich history of involvement in the Brentwood community.
She and her husband, John, moved here in the early 1980s and ever since, in one capacity or another, Smithson has been a constant presence in the life of the city.
Part of it is that Regina Smithson loves interacting with people. And that’s a good thing, when you consider she grew up one of 12 children in tiny Rayville, Louisiana.
“It was always the football team or the cheerleading team,” she remembers. “I was in the band. There were always people in our house.”
Smithson sees that time in her life as key to the type of public servant she later became. When you’re one of 12 in a bustling household, you are constantly surrounded by other people’s perspectives and stories.
“You don’t have to be from a large family to serve, but it does give you a different perspective on life and people,” she said.
After Rayville, Smithson moved around a bit, before settling in Huntsville, Alabama, where she found an office job at Boeing, while the company was building the Saturn V rocket. There, she met John, an engineer who would soon become her husband. Within a few years, the couple had three children: Kim, Laird and Cynthia. Then, in 1979, the Smithsons started their own business, the financial firm, Smithson & Associates.
In 1982, the Smithson family decided they wanted to make a change. They considered several different locations, but ultimately chose to move to Brentwood.
“We could have moved anywhere we wanted to,” Smithson said. “We just looked around in different areas and loved Brentwood and said, ‘That’s where we want to settle.’”
In Brentwood, Smithson focused on raising her children and growing her family business. She and John “built our business together,” Regina said, yet she still found the time to stay closely connected to her kids’ schools.
“I volunteered at all the schools the whole time all of my kids were in school,” she said. “I wanted to have a presence in the school with my kids there. I thought that was important.”
All three of the Smithsons’ children attended Williamson County Public schools, graduating from Brentwood High School, and all have chosen to raise their families in Brentwood as well. Altogether, Smithson has 11 grandchildren: the oldest of whom is a lacrosse player at Utah State University, and the youngest of whom are six-year-old twins at Scales Elementary. In between, she has a grandchild at Southern Utah University, one at Brentwood High, two at Brentwood Middle School, two at Edmondson Elementary and two more at Scales.
Smithson first entered local government in 1989, when a temporary vacancy opened up on the Board of Commissioners. She served about one-and-a-half years and enjoyed the experience. When the 1993 election rolled around, Smithson decided to run for her first full term.
“I knew that our family would be here, and I just was willing to serve,” she said. She won a spot on the city commission and has won five more elections since then.
During her time on the commission she has served on the Park Board, the Planning Commission, the Historic Commission, the Environmental Advisory Board, the Sister City Board, and she has been both vice mayor and mayor—a position she currently holds.
“I just feel like experience really counts,” she said, although that does not mean she takes her job for granted.
“I don’t think anyone’s entitled to a position, but I think if you work hard and prove yourself and you earn the trust and the confidence of the residents then that’s what gets you elected again,” she said.
Smithson is proud of many things she has accomplished during her time on the commission, including helping to make the city’s Flagpole Park a reality. The land the park currently sits on had been bandied about as a potential site for many projects over the years, including a through street. Smithson talked to residents and developers to find a different use for the land.
“Those are the kind of things that keep me motivated,” she said. “To make sure we have a better situation. Don’t just let it be what it would be, make it better. That’s my philosophy.”
Smithson hopes that voters will give her the opportunity to serve another term and again hold steadfastly to the ideals that she feels make Brentwood so great.
“I would like for us to have controlled, managed growth, continue to be financially sound, and continue to work to maintain and add to our green space,” she said.
These are not just matters of public policy to Smithson. They are closer to the heart than that. Over the years, she has watched the city grow alongside her family and she takes a personal joy in seeing it thrive.
“You know what I love?” she asked. “I love the fact that so many people move here because of what we have – the low taxes, the spaciousness, and the small community feeling we have here. And I hope that I’ve been a good part of the reason we have what we have.”
Brentwood’s Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, May 2. Early voting runs from Wednesday, April 12 through Thursday, April 27.