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Mayor withdraws from federal consideration for now

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Jan. 11, 2001
Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith has withdrawn his name from consideration for a federal position in the Bush administration at least for now.
Claiming being mayor of Meridian means more to him than a sub-cabinet post in the Bush administration, Smith said at a news conference Wednesday he has opted out of possible consideration as administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.
The Washington-based job currently pays $133,700.
In comments made after the news conference, however, Smith left open the possibility that he might consider a federal position should Bush win a second term as president and should a job be offered. To this point, no specific federal job offer has been made.
Reports had circulated Smith, who already serves on the Amtrak board of directors, was a top candidate for the FRA position, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The post is appointed by the President.
According to Smith, he had been contacted by "people in Washington" and in the railroad industry the day after the presidential election about possibly putting his name up as a candidate for the position.
Although Smith said for the past two months he had been pondering whether or not he wanted the position, he said he reached a decision several weeks ago when Meridian was nominated as the site for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center.
Smith stated he planned to run for re-election as mayor in June.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at