Meet Kenny Smith 

Charlotte City Council member and candidate for Charlotte Mayor

  • Kenny, You were the youngest of three boys. Talk about what it was like growing up with two older brothers.   What were your favorite things to do as a kid? What did you want to do when you grew up?

I loved being the youngest of three boys.  Growing up I idolized my brothers.  All I wanted in life was to be like them. We got along great. Allen, my oldest brother was 8 years older than me. For the most part we were so far apart in age that our paths didn’t cross that much except when he would take me to old Coliseum to watch NWA wrestling matches.  We loved Ric Flair! My middle brother Marshall was always very kind and looked out for me at every corner.  He was one of the toughest kids I knew so most of the older kids left me alone. I like to think I was a great younger brother but I am sure I drove them crazy following them around and talking all the time. As little boy I loved playing sports. Our neighborhood had a lot of kids. We would gather every day after school with some sort of ball and play pick-up games. Growing up I wanted to be President or a radio personality.  I saw President Reagan speak in 1984 at the Park Hotel and was hooked! At night I would sneak my red transistor radio to bed so I could listen to Hello Henry.  His booming voice and wonderful tales captivated my imaginatio

  • You are married to Bridget and have three young children. How did you meet this wonderful woman and talk about how you proposed.

I like to tell people when Bridget and I first met she was hitting on me, but no one ever buys it. We met at of all places the Meeting House.  She was in town with friends (visiting from graduate school) Good Friday and a group of us happened to meet up together for drinks. It was love at first site for me. A buddy gave me her email and phone number and I reached out immediately upon her return to Chapel Hill. We corresponded by email for a few days and then I finally called her.  My proposal was unfortunately not very romantic. I purchased the ring after she graduated from business school and held on to it for two months. We were set to visit her family over Labor Day when I would ask her dad for her hand. She moved to Charlotte without a ring and without a job and my mom sensed she was getting antsy and suggested I propose soon.  I literally went to the bank and got the ring from my safe deposit box, called her dad and headed to my house where she was working on my computer looking for a job. I stopped off and pick up some flowers. When I got home she took the flowers to the kitchen to prep them for a vase. When she turned around I was on my knee. It took a minute to stop crying but she did say yes. I called my mom and said guess what…Bridget said yes. She immediately responded by saying “yes to what?” I told her were engaged. She said that was fast, but she was very happy.

  • Looking at your Facebook page, it appears your two prominent hobbies are BBQing and a sock competition with your friends County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour, Former Council member John Lassiter and Scott Syfert. Do you have a secret BBQ recipe you would care to share?  And what’s the back story about “Soctober”?

Oh, I have some great BBQ recipes. I highly recommend Steve Raichlen’s book BBQ USA. It takes the best recipes from regions around our country.  For example, I use Memphis mustard style cole slaw and a Lexington NC Sauce. He also has fantastic lamb and chicken recipes. The key to BBQ is patience, choice of smoking wood (different woods yield different flavors), pit temperature (ideal 225-250 low and slow) and a good thermometer.  Unfortunately, you have way too many readers for me to share my secret rub. “Soctober” “is a fun month created by my good friend Scott Syfert. The goal is to wear the coolest and most fun socks over the course of the month and take pictures in unique places. It has turned quite competitive! Next year we are going to work to create a charitable aspect so we can spread the love of socks while helping those in need

  • .Murders are escalating in Charlotte, as is crime. We have a stupendous police chief in Chief Kerr Putney.  Is there a quick fix to slowing down crime or will it have to be a long term solution?  As Mayor, how would you “fix “it? 

Kerr Putney is the best chief in America. His dedication to our community is second to none.  There are no quick fixes to solve the problem, but I do think we can get it under control. My plan is simple. We need to give CMPD the proper resources (pay, benefits and facilities). We are down about 244 officers and this needs to be addressed. Much of this deficit is due to low morale.  A boost in pay and support from council would go a long way. About 80% of violent crime is committed with an illegally obtained weapon. Roughly 60% of those committing the crimes have a record. It is imperative we work with our state partners to garner stiffer penalties for those who obtain and distribute illegal weapons. Additionally, we need to help get more funds for the District Attorney’s office. Too many violent offenders are let back onto our streets.

  • Talk about toll roads. They are not just earmarked for the -77 North corridor. Where else are they planned in Charlotte? If you are against tolls, how would you stop them as Mayor?

Charlotte is about to be taken over by Toll Roads.  They are planned for 485, US 74 and I-77 South. We had a chance to stop them last year. I voted against tools and my opponent voted in favor. She then went on to cast the deciding vote on behalf of CRTPO (Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization). Unfortunately, our options regarding I-77 and I-485 may be limited.  They are too far down the road for the city to stop them. It is highly likely the General Assembly would need to intervene for any possibility of re-establishing general-purpose lanes

  • Aside from serving as Mayor of Charlotte, what are the top three things on your bucket list? 1) Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro 2) Playing Augusta National 3) Competing in a sanctioned BBQ contest.

About Kenny Smith

Bet you can’t guess who little Kenny is?

Kenny Smith, a Republican, was first elected in 2013 and is currently serving his second term on Charlotte City Council.

Smith was born in Charlotte at Presbyterian Hospital and has lived almost his entire life in his hometown. He and his wife, Bridget, along with their three children live a half-mile from his childhood home. He  attended Billingsville and Selwyn Elementary Schools, AG Middle School and Myers Park High School, where he served as Student Body President his senior year. Shortly after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996, he returned to Charlotte.

Kenny spent 7 ½ years working for Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company where as regional sales manager, he oversaw the Northeast territory, comprising 11 states. In June of 2005, he began his career in commercial real estate. Over the past 12 years, Smith has specialized in third party office leasing, tenant relocations and renewals, building acquisitions and dispositions. During that time, he has completed over 220 transactions due to his ability to negotiate win-win solutions for his clients and his community.

Kenny has been an active member of the community. He has been a youth group leader, deacon and elder, Dowd YMCA basketball coach, Montclaire Elementary School lunch buddy, graduate of Institute for Public Trust Serving, Mental Health Association Young Professionals Board, member of F3, annual volunteer at the InReach Dream Maker luncheon, Arts and Science Council annual campaign volunteer, and a Good Fellow.

by Lynn Wheeler