Opinion: A Call to Public Service: U.S. Army Veteran Mat Smith Makes Longshot Bid for the LA City Council

Mat Smith has no illusions when it comes to his bid to unseat CD-11 incumbent Mike Bonin. 

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

“I considered moving to Texas because the area is in collapse.” 

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

“I’m a military guy. There are things we can do to improve our current situation,” noted Smith who runs his own medical delivery business for the critically ill as he was preparing 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 improve the lives of people here in the district,” noted Smith, who attended Loyola High School. 

“I had no idea how much a council member actually makes. The size of the salary makes me more committed to offering voters a choice.”

The fifteen-member LA City Council is the highest-paid municipal council in the United States, earning more than every sitting US Governor, US Senator and Members of the US House of Representatives. 

A supporter of the recall of Mike Bonin, Smith stressed a need to build immediate, temporary housing to get people off the streets now with drug and alcohol rehabilitation at the core of curing the current homeless epidemic 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. 

A husband and Dad with a son, Smith has resided in the area since 1973 and believes his core values of “hard work, common sense and practical solutions” are the currency required to be civically successful.  

Characterizing his politics as “socially liberal, yet 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 time in the military Smith delivered goods and supplies to soldiers and refugees in extraordinarily challenging conditions such as Operation Bright Star. Smith received multiple commendations including the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal. 

When asked about the prospect of debating the other candidates in the race, he looked forward to comparing and contrasting his ideas to the other challengers. 

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

Smith agreed that homelessness has spun out of control and agrees in many ways Venice has become a “containment zone” of sorts which is counterproductive to sensible solutions and real results. 

“Public service means so much to me. I want to help others, especially the homelessness who are suffering. We need a change in leadership.” 

Antonicello is an Editorial Page Contributor for Yo! Venice and has served on numerous committees with the Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org) and will offer insights on the upcoming council campaign in LA’s 11th Council District. To reach Antonicello, call (310) 621-3775 or via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com.

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