Public service

Opinion: A call to public service: US Army veteran Mat Smith makes long-running bid for LA City Council

Mat Smith is under no illusions about his attempt to overthrow CD-11 holder Mike Bonin.

A combat veteran who’s been deployed to Egypt and Somalia, Smith describes LA’s Westside as “the best place on earth,” but the place he’s called home for decades has fallen on hard times.

“I considered moving to Texas because the area is falling apart.”

So fighting back was the only real option for Mr. Smith.

“I am a soldier. There are things we can do to improve our current situation,” noted Smith, who runs his own medical delivery business for the seriously ill as he prepared for a trip to San Diego after our 45-minute interview. .

“I have no political experience. I have no political ambitions. I just want to make life better for people here in the district,” said Smith, who attended Loyola High School.

“I had no idea what a council member’s real salary was. The size of the salary makes me more determined to give voters a choice.

The fifteen-member Los Angeles City Council is the highest-paid city council in the United States, earning more than every sitting U.S. governor, U.S. senator, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

A supporter of Mike Bonin’s recall, Smith stressed the need to build immediate temporary housing to get people off the streets now with drug and alcohol rehabilitation central to healing the current epidemic of homelessness. shelter in the district.

Smith was passionate about the plight of the homeless, especially homeless veterans who he knows have fallen through the cracks of the current housing crisis.

Husband and father of one son, Smith has resided in the area since 1973 and believes his core values ​​of “hard work, common sense and practical solutions” are the motto needed for civic success.

Calling his politics “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative”, this local surfer and swimmer has a “deep love” for beaches like Venice, and will work to make our coastline “safe, clean and sustainable”.

During his military service, Smith delivered goods and supplies to soldiers and refugees under extremely harsh conditions such as Operation Bright Star. Smith received several honors including the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal.

Asked about the prospect of debating the other candidates in the race, he was eager to compare and contrast his ideas with the other challengers.

“I understand adversity. I was deployed to Somalia in the face of a humanitarian crisis amid famine, social breakdown and civil war.

Smith agreed that homelessness has gotten out of hand, and in many ways agrees that Venice has become something of a “containment zone,” which is counterproductive to sensible solutions and real-world outcomes.

“Public service means a lot to me. I want to help others, especially homeless people who are suffering. We need a change of direction.

Antonicello is a contributor to the editorial page of Yo! Venice and has served on numerous committees with the Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org) and will provide insight into the council’s upcoming campaign in the Los Angeles Council’s 11th District. To reach Antonicello, call (310) 621-3775 or email [email protected]