Smith travels diverse path to top spot

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Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith was elected to the town’s top spot in November. RA ARCHIVE

BEACON FALLS — Gerard Smith has worked at an Army and Navy store, sold used cars, worked as a mortgage banker, owned his own race team, and worked in real estate.

He continues to work as a commercial real estate broker, runs a racing team and now has a third full-time job — running Beacon Falls.

It has been eight years since the last changing of the guard here.

In the Nov. 8 election, Smith, a Republican who served as the minority selectman in 2005-07, ousted longtime Democratic incumbent Susan Cable from the town’s top post.

Cable served as first selectman from 1997 to 2001, losing to Republican Richard Mihalcik for a single term in 2001-03. She then served as the minority selectman, and also served as selectman from 1991-95. She returned to being first selectman in 2003.

Earlier this year, when Smith decided to resign as chairman from the Board of Finance due to work obligations, he didn’t want to run for the top post, but a church service changed his mind.

He believes serving the town is his calling.

“I was called by God to be here whether you want to believe it or not,” he said.

Born and raised in Tarrytown, N.Y., Smith, 50, moved to Ossining, N.Y., where he met his wife, Anne. They bought a house here in 1986.

Married for 26 years, they have two sons, Jonathan, 25, and Benjamin, 23; a daughter-in-law, Benjamin’s wife, Jenessa; and a 1-year-old granddaughter, Evan.

A graduate of Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, N.Y., Smith grew up in a housing project in Tarrytown, he said.

“That was my life, get out and make it work,” he said.

At 10 years old, Smith delivered newspapers and cut grass. Six years later, he went to work at an Army and Navy store in Port Chester, N.Y.

A friend then got him into the car sales business. When he was 25, he sold a car to a woman who was in banking. He asked how he could enter that world, and she told him to meet her boss.

He worked in the mortgage banking industry from 1986 to 2008.

He owned his own mortgage banking firm for eight of those years. In 2005, he earned his real estate license, and in 2008 he closed his firm, Federated Mortgage Co., to go full-time into real estate.

Smith now works for Grubb & Ellis Co. in Stamford as a managing director.

On top of that, he owns Jonathan Smith Racing LLC, which competes at the NASCAR level.

If he secures sufficient sponsorship, he will be the manager of the team, he said.

And if that were to happen, he would pull out of real estate and only run the town and race team.

Smith will serve with his running mate, David D’Amico, whose father, former First Selectman Leonard D’Amico, got him involved in town government.

He attended a town meeting in 1988, when he spoke against a proposal to turn land in back of his house into low-income housing.

He said Leonard D’Amico told him that, “We need people like you involved in town politics.”

He was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission in 1988, and served for 10 years, including eight as chairman. He then served stints on the Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen.

Leonard D’Amico said the town is fortunate to have a person of Smith’s experience and stature in office. When Smith ran for selectman, D’Amico told him he would be an excellent candidate because of his honesty and integrity.

“I feel that the town is in extremely good hands,” D’Amico said.

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