10 Questions with Jeremy Smith
Sussex Village Administrator Jeremy Smith meets with Megan Sackett, parks program coordinator and Melissa Weiss, assistant adminstrator/public works director. Photo by:
Jeremy Smith is one of Lake Country's must influential municipal administrators because the seven Sussex Village trustees unanimously respect his advice and trust him. They seek his advice on almost all key issues in the village.
"Jeremy is very knowledgeable and he is plugged into the community," explained trustee Bob Zarzynski.
"Part of an administrator's job is to keep the trustees informed. There is probably no one who is better informed about village policies and procedures than Jeremy," Zarzynski added.
When did you decide to pursue a career in municipal government and why?
I knew I wanted to do something in government by high school. It wasn't aimed at municipal government until my junior year of college when a City Manager talked to one of our classes. I was intrigued by the breadth of what local governments are tasked with accomplishing and how you can see the results first hand.
Where were you born, raised, and what is educational background?
I was born in Kaukauna but spent most of my childhood in Manitowoc. During my junior year in high school, my father took a job in the Fox River Valley so we moved to Menasha. I graduated from Menasha High School; graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with degrees in political science and public administration and received my masters in public administration from the Kansas University.
What individual(s) have had the greatest influence on you?
My grandfather probably had the greatest influence because he instilled in me the importance of public service and taught me a lot about life. He was a farmer and served as a town supervisor in a rural town outside of Chilton, Wis. I spent a lot of time on the farm as a child. It was a great place for a city kid to learn about what seemed like another universe, and about work, family, economics, nature, and life and death. If it wasn't for him, I doubt I would have headed down the path I did.
Why did you choose to work in Sussex?
I was completing my degree in Kansas, but I am a Wisconsin guy. I wanted to get back to my family and home and I saw the assistant (administrator) job opening in Sussex. I didn't know anything about Sussex but I jumped in to learn about the community. I got the job. Two and a half years ago, the opportunity arose tobecome the Village Administrator. This June will be 10 years since I started at the village and it has been a great experience.
What is your most important role as administrator?
Taking a steady and diligent approach to accomplish what the Village Board wants to achieve for the community and developing ways to grow the capacity of the community organization to perform and produce results. We have a great team of citizens, board members, and employees working together who know how special Sussex is and the quality of life here.
What do you dislike most about your job?
There are not enough hours in the day to tackle all of the exciting projects and opportunities our community has. I could literally live in my office and sometimes it feels like I do. But, I have a young family that needs me as well so I have to break free to honor my commitment and priority to them.
What hobbies or activities outside of work do you enjoy?
I enjoy baseball, college hockey, participating in fantasy baseball. Now with two young kids, playing with them and helping them grow. My 3-year-old daughter really wants to take dance classes so I suppose I am about to learn a whole new world I never knew.
With the large number of night meetings you attend, how do you balance work and family obligations?
While I am passionate about working, I love my family and I'm no good to either if I don't manage that. I make a concentrated effort to ensure I eat with the family and play with the kids at least a couple of nights during the week. The weekends are family time except for emergencies. I also focus and stress that the management team takes care of their end of the bargain. That balance allows me to have balance I need for my life.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a spouse who is also a municipal administrator?
She understands. Many spouses would not be so understanding about the hours and nights away, or the self-imposed political neutrality required by our profession's code of ethics. The disadvantages are our complex schedules. There are many weeks where my wife and I won't see each other expect for one night during the week.
What kinds of books and genres of music do you enjoy?
I listen to pretty much every kind of music. It depends on my mood for the day. From classic to hip hop to even country once and awhile. For enjoyment, I love reading "National Geographic" magazine. They can't send them to me fast enough. It is so exciting learning about the world issues and things that I won't have a chance to see myself, but yet still impact me.
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