James has served his country and community his whole life.
James Smith was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. He is married to Kirkland (Thomas) of Mount Pleasant. They are blessed to be proud parents of Emerson, Thomas, Paul, and Shannon. They attend church at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, the church he grew up in.
James is currently a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, a Major in the South Carolina Army National Guard, a small business owner, and practicing attorney in Columbia, South Carolina. His entire life has been dedicated to service to others in his community, state, and nation.
He can trace military service to every generation of his family dating back to the Revolutionary War, and his parents instilled in him those values of duty, service and leadership. These values have carried James throughout the various aspects of his life.
James is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and University of South Carolina School of Law. As a Major in the South Carolina Army National Guard, his twelve (12) month combat tour in Afghanistan makes him one of a small number of public officials nationwide who have served the United States in combat. Smith’s military service shaped his outlook on civic service, as well as his appreciation for those who sacrificed before him.
In the various aspects of his service, he fought the Taliban head-on; worked hard to shake things up at the State House; and is always committed to make South Carolina a better place for all to live and work.
Smith served eight years as a JAG officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard when a 2001 visit to Ground Zero in New York stirred something inside of him. “It had a profound impact on me,” he recalls. It motivated him to resign his Officer Commission so that he could enlist as an infantryman, and, at age 37, begin basic training.
In February 2007, Smith deployed as an infantry officer as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. There, he served as a Combat Advisor to Afghan Security Forces operating in remote areas in southern Afghanistan. His service was shared by him and his family, something many families all over the country continue to do today in protection and honor of our nation’s security.
Always crediting his infantry for any success and to his very survival, Smith worked side by side with Afghans to enforce the rule of law. His service was recognized by him receiving the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Purple Heart.
In the SC General Assembly, James has been a tireless advocate for a variety of issues. He has championed issues facing our veterans and active military. He has been a vocal leader for public education and governmental and ethics reform; fought for increased jobs and economic development across the state; provided protections for the environment, healthcare and the arts – all to make South Carolina the best it can be and a great place to live and raise a family. During his tenure, he has earned the respect of legislators from both sides of aisle and has established a solid reputation as someone who gets things done for South Carolinians.
His public service in the House can be characterized as “service before self.” The needs of his constituency are always first and foremost. He expects and demands holding accountable the forces too often seen in politics, which care more about their personal future rather than South Carolina’s future. He carries with him the values that led him to volunteer to go to war – the ideals of patriotism, love-of-country, and service-over-self.
“My family and I are only one of many in a long-line who have served and sacrificed for our country, and I know that the freedoms we enjoy today are provided for by the sacrifices made by others who went before us,” Smith says. “It is up to all of us to work and live lives worthy of that sacrifice, and to give to the next generation so that they will continue to do the same.”