, Derry, New Hampshire

August 29, 2013

Londonderry's new leader settles in at town hall

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — Kevin Smith has come home.

The new town manager is settling in and getting used to his second-floor office at Town Hall.

Smith, 36, was named Londonderry’s new town manager earlier this month and started work Aug. 15.

For Smith, a former GOP gubernatorial candidate, it’s like coming home. He was raised in town and said he is a proud Lancer through and through.

“It’s been great,” he said from his new office last week. “It’s an incredible privilege to do this.”

Smith said he applied for the position because he has strong connections to the town and wants to support its goals and challenges.

“We’ve been blessed, my wife and I, in so many ways,” he said “This town has given us so much, to be able to give back, it’s a tremendous privilege.”

Smith’s roots are deep.

He is a 1995 graduate of Londonderry High School. He knows people, sees old classmates and still enjoys being “the voice” of Londonderry High School sports.

Both his parents and his wife’s parents still call Londonderry home. He lives in Litchfield.

Smith became active in local and state politics after graduating from the University of New Hampshire at Manchester and served the town as a state representative from 1996 to 1998.

He ran for governor in 2012, losing in the Republican primary to Ovide Lamontagne.

“That was the hardest thing I ever did,” he said. “It was nonstop all the time, but I have no regrets about it.”

The experience gained in that public arena will carry over nicely to his new job, Smith said. That’s especially true when it comes to dealing with people, the issues and trying to make the right decisions.

Smith said he ran his campaign on his drive for economic development. Londonderry’s economic development potential is great, he said. That’s something he is very interested in making a priority.

“I plan to do a lot of outreach in town,” he said.

That includes reaching out to potential business, developers, and the people who already work and live in Londonderry.

The town has a lot going for it, Smith said, from its prime location, small-town quality of life feel, and also a huge capacity for making big things happen.

Big things are already in the pipeline, including the proposed Woodmont Commons and future development on Pettengill Road.

There’s also the way the town makes people feel. More and more of his friends from high school and college are coming back to town to raise families here, Smith said.

“That says so much about this community,” he said. “It says a lot about the town.”

Smith said the first six months on the job will be a learning curve. He said he plans to meet with employees and hear their concerns and hopes for the town.

He has no larger political dreams now, other than to run his town the best he can.

Smith will also continue to enjoy his time being “the voice” of Londonderry High School home football games this fall. For about 20 years, he has shared time up in “the box,” doing announcer duties among a crew of longstanding sports supporters.