FLORENCE — Lauderdale County has a new full-time license commissioner.
Florence attorney and former county commissioner William Smith was appointed to the position Monday afternoon by Gov, Robert Bentley.
The appointment begins immediately.
“I am honored and it is very humbling to receive this appointment,” Smith said.
“It’s comforting to know Governor Bentley has that much confidence in me to put me in such an important job.”
Smith will replace Mickey Haddock, who left the position Oct. 31 just before taking over as Florence’s mayor. Haddock, who has been license commissioner for 20 years, was elected mayor in August and took office earlier this month.
There are four years left on the six-year term. The license commissioner’s position carries a starting annual salary of $76,185.
More than 20 people applied for the position, with the governor’s staff interviewing most of the applicants before deciding on Smith.
Among the applicants was Sheryl Marks, who has worked in the license commissioner’s office for 28 years, an employee Smith called a “wonderful person and highly qualified.”
For Smith, the transition began shortly after receiving an email from the governor’s office informing him that he received the appointment. He went to the license commissioner’s office and immediately began getting acquainted with the staff and learning about processes.
He said one thing quickly became obvious during his visit.
“Mickey Haddock has done a wonderful job for the past 20 years, and he has a great staff here,” Smith said. “Mickey has told me the office practically runs itself, and I can already see why he made that statement. The staff is as good as gold and they know what they’re doing. They will help make this transition a smooth one.”
Smith said he does not have plans to make drastic changes. Instead, he said his plans are to learn as much as possible about the responsibilities he now faces.
“I will do a lot of observing a lot of listening to the staff,” he said.
Smith said he has already heard that new technology is needed in some areas and that new laws will become active in January. He also praised Haddock for advancements in technology that he has already introduced to the office, like online tag renewals.
“I don’t have an agenda other than to continue the professional, courteous service that county residents have been receiving and to treat everyone fairly and equally,” Smith said.
Smith was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the County Commission in 2007 and spent two years in the position. He unsuccessfully ran for probate judge in Lauderdale County in the Nov. 6 general election.
“I was encouraged to seek this appointment early on, but I was focused on doing what I needed to do in seeking the probate judge office,” he said. “I’m certainly pleased with this opportunity. I just want to serve the people and this provides me with that opportunity.”
Smith said he plans to ask Haddock to swear him in to office. First, he must make arrangements for pending legal cases he’s involved in as a lawyer.
While that process continues, Smith said he will be back in the license commissioner’s office this morning to learn more.
Mike Goens can be reached at 256-740-5740 or mike.goens@TimesDaily.com.