House Speaker on the fence about return to Statehouse
For months House Speaker Shap Smith has deflected questions about whether he will run for his seat again. As of Friday he had not yet made a decision.
Smith, a Democrat from Morristown, has served in the House for 12 years - the last six in the Speaker's office.
Though he is a fixture in the Statehouse, Smith insists that the institution is resilient and could cope next year without him even if the House, as he predicts, takes up an overhaul of the income tax code, the property tax formula and financing plans for universal health care in one fell swoop.
"I love the job, and it's very interesting," Smith said. "I have asked work and family the for last 12 years to allow me to have this time, and I just need to decide whether it's time for me to stop asking for that favor."
Smith, who is a lawyer for the Burlington firm Dinse Knapp McAndrew, says it's been hard for him to miss vacations with his wife and two young children during school breaks in February and April. "I know that sounds silly, but it does wear after a while," he said.
Like all lawmakers who take four months out of the year to serve in the Legislature, the Speaker has also sacrificed income, but that fact, he said, is not a deciding factor. "If my life was really about the money, I never would have done this job in the first place," Smith said.
Smith says he is being pressured by members of the Shumlin administration to stay. "The governor has asked me, but he's only one voice out of a number of people who have asked me to stay. It's very flattering. I do love the job, but I want to make sure I'm running for the right reason."
"I want people to understand I do love this job, and I think it's the best job I've ever had, and the Legislature is pretty incredible," Smith said. "I like all the people there but I think everybody should understand it's not an indefinite thing. I want to make sure I'm not staying past a time that's good for me or the body."
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