Come ‘n get your martyr: Throw the book at Ian Smith if convicted (Opinion)
The latest embarrassing figure to emerge from New Jersey is Ian Smith, a gym co-owner in Bellmawr, Camden County. If you think back to the first wave of pandemic protocol resistance, Smith made headlines nationwide when he defied state mandates that impacted his business.
Gov. Murphy issued a directive in 2020 that gyms must remain closed for the time being, but Smith decided to open anyway. From there, the police got involved, shutting the business down and issuing stiff fines. Smith would then hit the news media circuit and find every which way to get his side of the story out there.
In a time of great uncertainty about pretty much everything, Ian Smith's words held a lot of weight. Perhaps more than even he expected. So much so that in February he announced his candidacy for Congress. He will challenge Robert Healey, Shawn Hyland and Nicholas Ferrara for the chance to take on Democratic incumbent Andy Kim in the November midterm election.
With more influence comes more attention paid to every aspect of your life, especially when it comes to criminal records. As Ian Smith continued to make headlines throughout 2020, more and more came out about his past. Most notably: A vehicular homicide charge in 2007.
Ian Smith was charged in '07 with causing the death of 19-year-old college student Kevin Ade. He pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide, while other charges were dismissed. A judge sentenced him to five years and six months in prison with three years of supervised release.
Smith addressed the conviction in a 2020 post on his Instagram, saying there is "justifiably a great deal of hated and resentment towards me. This is something I've lived with my whole life. I've never run from it nor would I." See what he had to say in the video below.
"This is something I've lived with my whole life. I've never run from it nor would I."
I believe Ian Smith when he says he's lived with this tragedy hanging over his head his whole life. I believe him when he says he would never run from it. But one thing Smith hasn't done, apparently, is learn from it.
Smith was charged with driving while intoxicated just before 12:30 am Sunday morning on Route 130. Police told the New Jersey 101.5 newsroom Smith was also charged with reckless driving, careless driving, refusing to consent to a breathalyzer test, traffic on marked lanes and delaying traffic.
With all of this in mind, it's time for the South Jersey gym co-owner turned congressional candidate to ride off into the sunset and withdraw from the race if he is convicted.
It doesn't matter if you agree with Ian Smith's principles or find his COVID-related actions or talking points reprehensible. When it comes to drunk driving, especially a repeat offense, you have to start considering character and integrity. No, he didn't run from actions in 2007, but a second conviction would prove that the lessons he claimed to have learned couldn't stay with him for more than 15 years.
Someone who holds that level of poor decision-making should not, by any means, be anything close to an elected official. New Jersey already has a fair share of politicians with bad moral compasses who lie through their teeth. Why feed into that by voting for a candidate who wouldn't let killing a 19-year-old while drunk driving deter him from getting behind the wheel intoxicated again?
Ian Smith has a court appearance scheduled for April 14.
A consultant for Smith's campaign tells the New Jersey Globe he expects the charges to be dropped. He alleges a gust of wind caused Smith's truck to swerve. He adds Smith passed a field sobriety test, but police said he did not consent to a breathalyzer test.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.