The Manassas City Council voted unanimously Monday to appoint Ralph Smith as an interim council member to replace former councilman Ken Elston, who resigned July 31.
Smith will serve on the council until a special election in Nov. 5 to fill the remainder of Elston’s term, which expires at the end of 2022.
Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish (R) addressed a packed room at the Aug. 12 Manassas City Council meeting to introduce Smith as interim councilman.
“I’ve known Ralph Smith for many years, and I’ve known him to be a genuine gentleman,” Parrish said. “This a very special moment for our community.”
Smith is a past president of the Prince William Branch NAACP and has served the city as an election official for more than 20 years. Smith was senior executive for the U.S. Social Security Administration from 1997 to 2002, and branch manager at the SSA from 1987 to 1997.
Smith has been involved in community service efforts for decades, helping community members with issues like housing, employment, justice, public education and employment. He is a recipient of the Prince William County Human Rights Award and has been recognized by the Library of Congress for community service.
On his application for the position of interim council member, Smith wrote that he would continue to conduct himself with integrity and commitment and would be true to those values as a council member.
“I enjoy my work with the citizens in the three communities I serve – helping them with issues and helping them to understand local government processes, their services and functions,” Smith wrote. “Now, I realize that I need to step up and do more for my city. Being a city council member would be a way for me to give back to the community that has supported and encouraged me over the past almost 40 years.”
Elston, a Democrat, was first elected to council in 2014, announced his resignation in May after taking the position of associate dean of the college of arts and sciences at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina.
Democrats took over the majority on the Manassas City Council for the first time after the November 2018 election, when Elston was re-elected and Michelle Davis-Younger, also a Democrat, became the first African-American woman to serve on the council.