LIMA — In response to questions about her financial status, Lima Mayoral Candidate Sharetta Smith issues the following statement on Thursday:
“Running for mayor is not a decision I made lightly. I gave it serious thought and I decided to run because I believe I am the best candidate. I knew that if I decided to run, every decision I have ever made would become public. I have always been very public about my life because I know that my experiences are not uncommon, and that my story of having three children before I was 21 and raising them as a working, single mom putting myself through first undergraduate school, then later law and graduate school is not unlike that of countless women across this country and in our community.
“Yes. I am a lawyer, and a candidate for mayor. But my story doesn’t start there. I worked minimum wage jobs, studying on lunch breaks, and at night once my children were asleep. I was once on public assistance; and as I’ve stated before there were many months where there were more bills than dollars to pay them. I learned to buy clothing from Goodwill (where I still shop) and I moved my family away from Ohio when I was just shy of completing my law degree because the company I was working for offered me a position that would double my hourly wage. Despite help from immediate and extended family, fighting my way out of poverty was extremely hard. But I kept going because there was no way that I was going to bring three children into this world and not do everything in my power to give them a fair chance at having a decent quality of life.
“Like many American families, I’ve also had to deal with debt from mounting medical bills from dealing with two major health issues in my life. First, one of my children was born with Sickle Cell Disease, a chronic blood disorder. Second, I’ve survived a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer. Nationally, sickle cell patients spend an average amount of 4 days of hospital stays per year,and an estimated $2.98 billion per year in medical bills, with the average annual cost of sickle cell care for a child averaging $10,000. On average the cost of chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is $168,000.
“Even though I continued to work while undergoing chemotherapy, taking just two days off (one for infusions, and the other to recover) once every two weeks; and also worked each time my child was hospitalized, sleeping nights in the hospital room and entrusted my child under the care of nurses and hospital staff during the day while I worked. Not only did sickle cell and cancer take an enormous toll on our health—they also left a tremendous negative financial impact.
”I faced all these obstacles and did so without feeling sorry for myself, without blaming others, and without cursing my fate. I faced these obstacles consistently with bravery, courage, perseverance. Above all I surrendered to and trusted in the will and the power of God to get me through. I wish I can say that I am on the other side of these struggles.
“But if anyone has ever found themselves struggling to make ends meet, then you know that trying to pay off previous bills, keep up with current ones, and stay prepared for the next crisis takes years. I’m no exception and I am still fighting my way out.
“I owe outstanding debts. I take full responsibility and I’m grateful that most of these bills have now been paid, and I’ve entered into payment plans to pay off the others. I have never ignored my responsibilities and I never filed for bankruptcy. I will meet my obligations - however slowly but surely.
“I am also well aware that some will argue that my personal financial challenges disqualify me from public office. I disagree, and I believe that the 80% of Americans that are in debt, and the four out of five Americans who also owe money would disagree as well. I fully disclosed my debts and lawsuits in my application for admission to practice law in Tennessee. After reviewing my disclosures, the Tennessee Supreme Court granted me a license to practice law.
“As a candidate for mayor, I stand knowing that I’ve lived a full life dealing with issues that regular, working people deal with every single day. I stand fully committed to do everything in my power to fight for all of us to have a fair chance at having a decent quality of life.”