William T. Smith

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William T. Smith II (January 25, 1916 – March 30, 2010) was an American farmer and politician from New York.

Life[edit]

He was born on January 25, 1916, in Corning, Steuben County, New York. He attended the public schools in Big Flats, and Corning Free Academy. He graduated from the New York State College of Agriculture, Cornell University in 1938.[1] Afterwards he farmed in Big Flats.

In 1961, he bought a Cadillac for $6,100 using money he gained from farm subsidies, which were intended to prop up crop prices by paying farmers not to grow crops.[2] Smith, a fourth-generation farmer, drove the Cadillac around the district as a campaign prop demonstrating the largesse of the federal government's entitlement programs, and the next year managed to win the Republican primary in the 49th District, defeating the incumbent State Senator Harold A. Jerry, Jr.. Afterwards he was nicknamed sometimes as Bill "Cadillac" Smith. He was a member of the New York State Senate from 1963 to 1986, sitting in the 174th, 175th, 176th, 177th, 178th, 179th, 180th, 181st, 182nd, 183rd, 184th, 185th and 186th New York State Legislatures.

Smith led a campaign against drunk driving, which stemmed from his daughter's death in a drunk driving related incident in 1973. Smith was noted for his staunch fiscal conservatism, pushed for cost estimates on state bills, and voted against the state enrolling in Medicaid (the only member of the entire New York legislature to do so) because he believed the cost would be much more than estimated. At one point he had reached the position of deputy majority leader.

He died on March 30, 2010, at the Founders Pavilion nursing home in Corning, New York.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ New York Red Book (1965–1966; pg. 91)
  2. ^ 20 SENATORS HAIL A REBEL FARMER; He Purchased Cadillac With Corn He Did Not Plant in the New York Times on July 8, 1961 (subscription required)
  3. ^ Former senator "Cadillac" Smith dies in The Leader, of Corning, on March 30, 2010
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Harold A. Jerry, Jr.
New York State Senate
49th District

1963–1965
Succeeded by
Dalwin J. Niles
Preceded by
Frank J. Glinski
New York State Senate
56th District

1966
Succeeded by
James D. Griffin
Preceded by
Ronald B. Stafford
New York State Senate
48th District

1967–1972
Succeeded by
Edwyn E. Mason
Preceded by
James E. Powers
New York State Senate
51st District

1973–1982
Succeeded by
Warren M. Anderson
Preceded by
L. Paul Kehoe
New York State Senate
52nd District

1983–1986
Succeeded by
Randy Kuhl