Over the past week, Mingo County has mourned the loss of commissioner Gavin Smith, who died late Monday night on June 7, which was his 64th birthday.
A resident and native of the Gilbert area, Smith was recently elected to the Mingo County Commission last November as a Republican, defeating longtime incumbent Greg “Hootie” Smith. He assumed the seat Jan. 1.
Just after he began his term on the commission, he became their representative to the Mingo County Airport Authority, where he worked on the continuing development of the Appalachian Regional Airport and other projects.
Smith also served as corporation president of Stacy Equipment and Repair in Gilbert.
“It is with immense sadness that we confirm the passing of Commissioner Gavin Smith,” a post on the Mingo County Commission Facebook page reads. “In his brief time as a commissioner, Gavin worked tirelessly to serve the people of Mingo County. His love for our county and his passion to make it the best it can be were evident in both his words and actions. His time on the commission may have been brief, but his impact is undeniable. Please join Commissioners Taylor and Hannah and the entire county commission family as we keep his family and friends in our prayers.”
Commission President Thomas Taylor described Smith as a “very special man” and “true friend” in a later statement.
“Mingo County lost a very special man and I lost a true friend,” Taylor said. “When Gavin first decided to run for office, he called me and asked if we could ‘do better over there?’ He truly believed that the people of this county deserved more. We had conversations almost daily on ways to better our county (and) while his time on the commission may have been short, he made an enormous impact.
“I remember when we were campaigning, I used to tell people that Gavin was too good for politics,” Taylor added. “Not one time did I hear anyone say a bad word about him. It was quite the opposite. I heard so many amazing stories about what kind and generous man he was. He helped so many people and touched so many lives including my own. He will be truly missed.”
Commissioner Diann Hannah also offered her condolences.
“He came in eager to learn and do the best job he could for the county,” Hannah said. “He wanted to work and get along with us and make the county better. He took the trash cleanup personally and worked alongside the volunteers to make the county look better. We were discussing what we could do next to help the redevelopment of this county going forward. His death is a definite loss for us and the county as a whole. Prayers for his wife and family — he was a good man.”
On Sunday, June 13, the public paid their respects to Smith when his funeral procession departed from Mounts Funeral Home in Gilbert and made its way through the area. The procession included all the county’s fire departments and members of the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department. Some residents lined up along the road and showed their love with a “Gavin for Commission” sign or T-shirt from election season.
Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Duke Jewell has outlined the process for filling the vacancy caused by Smith’s death.
According to state code, the two remaining commissioners have 30 days to appoint someone to fill the vacancy, which began June 7, meaning the seat must be filled no later than July 7. The appointee must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old,
- Be a registered Republican for a minimum of 60 days prior to the vacancy opening,
- Be a resident of Mingo County and reside in a magisterial district not already served by Taylor (Williamson) or Hannah (Magnolia).
The individual who is appointed to Smith’s seat will serve in the position until the 2022 election is certified. Under state law, the unexpired term must be placed on the ballots for the next primary and general elections, meaning that if the appointee wants to continue serving in Smith’s seat, they will be required to run as a candidate in next year’s elections.
The commission will outline more details and instructions about the appointment process this week. Keep up to date at www.WilliamsonDailyNews.com.