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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Smitty hanging up his spurs
Wednesday, September 21, 2016 by Jo Clifton
As he told his friends and colleagues in an email Tuesday, Tom “Smitty” Smith is stepping down from his position as executive director of Public Citizen of Texas. At 66, Smith says it is time to hang up his spurs and let someone else deal with the Texas Legislature. Smith has worked for Public Citizen for 31 years, and he counts among his most important achievements “helping to start Texas’ renewable energy boom by organizing citizens, by co-founding the wind coalition, doing a jobs potential study that got west Texans on board with getting the transmission lines built,” as he noted in his letter. “Our recent work with municipalities has broken the solar price barrier in Texas, and now Texas’ energy future is heavy on solar. Texas is now ranked first in the nation for installed wind energy.” Also on his top 10 list of favorite accomplishments is “helping citizens organize to stop the construction of 17 of the 20 proposed coal plants planned in the past decade.” He notes that it was during that campaign that he fell in love with his organizing partner, Karen Hadden, who is now his wife. Smith told the Austin Monitor that he hopes Public Citizen will hire a new executive director to start work at the beginning of 2017. He said he intends to hang around for another month or two to help that person get their feet on the ground, but he doesn’t want to stay much longer because then he might get sucked into working during the upcoming legislative session. Smith said that he and Hadden plan to travel after his retirement, but he said he has no plans to leave Austin.
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