Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Rep. Sam Smith to retire

by MARC LEVY Associated Press on February 11, 2014 10:45 AM

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania House Speaker Sam Smith announced this morning that he will leave the chamber’s top post and retire when his 14th term ends on Nov. 30.

Smith, 58, R-Punxsutawney, made the announcement a day after telling friends and associates about it privately.

“While friends and supporters have been overwhelming in encouraging me to continue to run, the truth is, my heart is not in it, and my effort would be subpar, and that would not be fair or good for any of us,” Smith said in a statement issued this morning. “The job of state representative demands 100 percent attention to every constituent’s view or problem, while trying to present a voice of reason at the statewide level of government. Upon some deep reflection, I no longer feel I can give the residents of the 66th the 100 percent commitment the job requires.

“And to me, that is important. The reason I first ran for office was to make sure our rural voice was heard in Harrisburg. Rural Pennsylvania sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, especially on issues that cut along geographic lines versus traditional Republican or Democratic political lines.

“To enhance our voice in the House, I worked to get elected to leadership. Running for House leadership, and ultimately as speaker of the House, proved to be the right thing to do for the people of the 66th District, as well as rural Pennsylvania in general. Being able to run for the position of speaker was only an option as long as the citizens of this area gave me the honor of being their voice in the House.”

Among issues Smith said he has worked to address were changing laws to enhance mine remediation and clean up streams, protecting the unborn, stopping child abusers and fighting the negative impact of the building code.

Smith also said he said he was proud of improved airport access in Jefferson County, the rebirth of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus in Punxsutawney, and expanded water and sewer lines in small towns such as Rossiter, Plumville and Glen Campbell in Indiana County.

Smith’s retirement will end his service as the top state House official after four years. Smith, a Republican from Punxsutawney whose father also served in the House, was facing a potentially tough primary challenge in his 66th District seat.

Smith was first elected in 1986 and became speaker in 2011 after six years as the House Republican floor leader.

“I want to personally thank the citizens of the 66th District for entrusting me with the honor and responsibility of representing them in the oldest elected body in America, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. I am proud of my record of leadership and accomplishment on their behalf,” he said.

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