|John F. Smith (center) withdrew from the mayoral race Monday and endorsed Scott Mann (left) for mayor.|
(Photo by Tim Doyle / Menifee Web Design)
Smith, 41, said he spent the weekend drafting a letter he sent out to the media on Monday, writing, "For personal reasons, I am going to concentrate on other important events with my family. I have too many irons in the fire right now and, while I believe that I would make a good mayor for this city, now is just not the right time."
In a phone interview Monday afternoon, Smith attributed his decision primarily to concerns about his wife's health and the time demands of his job as a project manager for a San Diego-based company.
"I've been dealing with some emotional issues and I'm wearing about 10 hats in my job during a tough time in the economy," said Smith, who had never run for public office before. "I went through a lot of soul searching. This was a difficult decision for me because I never quit anything. I don't consider this quitting, though; I definitely will stay involved in local government."
Smith said he will seek appointment to a local commission -- one he didn't name -- and will make his wife and family a priority in the meantime. He repeated on Monday his belief that candidates should not seek money from special interests to fund their campaign or affect their political decisions. This was a major part of his platform when running against Mann and Darcy Kuenzi, the other mayoral candidate.
Relying only on his personal funds and contributions from friends and family, Smith ran a modest campaign. He had far fewer campaign signs around town than his competitors. Also unlike Mann and Kuenzi, he said he chose not to spend the $1,000 required to publish a campaign statement in the official Riverside County sample ballot and information pamphlet.
"I think not having that statement in there with the others would've really hurt me," Smith said in the phone interview. "I also decided that I would be taking away votes that could cost Scott Mann the election."
In his prepared statement, Smith wrote that "... I believe that no one has a better grasp of these issues than Scott Mann. Based upon his education, business background and his 25 years of servce to our country as a Navy veteran, I wholeheartedly endorse Scott and will do everything in my power to help get him elected as mayor."
Mann said Monday he has had some good discussions with Smith following recent candidate forums and found Smith's support "very encouraging."
"I was surprised with his decision, but I'm honored he felt I'm the best candidate," Mann said. I think he agrees with most of my beliefs."
Mann, a former Menifee city council member and current school board member, and Kuenzi, a current city council member, are scheduled to participate in another candidate forum Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Webb Hall on the Sun City Civic Association campus.