Rep. Raymond Smith Jr. is on his way to Raleigh, and his supporters gathered Friday to see him on his way.
A crowd made up of Goldsboro High School students, Smith’s family and friends, and those who worked on his campaign gathered in the high school auditorium Friday for Smith’s swearing-in ceremony, as he prepares to take over the District 21 seat left behind by retiring Rep. Larry Bell.
The ceremony featured several speakers, the first of whom was Christopher Horne, GHS principal. Speaking to his students, Horne said that Smith’s election to the General Assembly after serving as a member of the Wayne County Board of Education shows the potential that GHS students have.
Horne said that he expects Smith will remain a supporter of Goldsboro High.
“As we come together for this great occasion today, understand that every single step of the way, every single part of the process was hard work paying off. This successful day we’re all experiencing is intentional, it’s by design,” Horne said. “I can tell just from speaking with (Smith) that his support of our school and our community is not ending, it’s just the beginning.”
Attorney Glenn Barfield was the next to speak. He recounted the day he met Smith as a fourth-grade student, when Wayne County Public Schools became racially integrated.
“On the first day of class, I met Raymond, and we became fast friends. We grew up and came through school in an educational system that brought people together,” Barfield said. “That auspicious day certainly made all the difference in my life.”
Soon, it was time for the swearing in. Flanked by his wife, Cortrina, and their two daughters, Tracy and Ashley, Smith took the oath of office adminstered by District Court Judge Ericka James.
Taking the podium afterward, Smith thanked his supporters for helping him win the nomination. He said that the next person to take over his seat could very well be sitting in the room.
“I’m looking in this audience right now for one of you, because I’m not going to be here forever,” he said. “I’m not going to be here forever, but I want to know that there’s someone ready to take the mantle from me, just as Dr. Bell has been so gracious and doing for me.”
Speaking after the ceremony, Smith was happy to be surrounded by his loved ones and supporters.
“I just feel full. To see the people here who molded me into whatever it is that I am today, I just feel elated and full,” he said.
Smith said his time between now and his first formal session of the General Assembly will be spent moving into a new office in Raleigh, including meeting with his new legislative assistant and finding out what committees he will serve on.
Republicans control the General Assembly, and as such make the decisions on committee appointments. However, each incoming representative does provide a list of preferred committees. Smith, a Democrat, said he has three priorities for where he would like to serve.
“My first priority is K-12 education, as well as education appropriations,” he said. “I would also like to be involved with transportation, because that is part of my background.”