AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s largest organization for hunters and fishermen officially has a new public face.
The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine announced Wednesday that Tim Bell has succeeded George Smith as executive director in a transition that potentially marks a shift for the 12,000-member organization.
Smith, who has served as SAM’s highly public frontman since 1993, announced in May that he would step down at the end of the year. Smith is expected to finish out the year with SAM in order to help with the transition.
A press release distributed by SAM on Wednesday afternoon said that Bell brings with him more than 15 years of experience working in politics and on legislative issues. He previously worked as director of governmental affairs for a national physician’s organization as well as legislative assistant to a state representative in Florida.
The release stated that Bell also has managed several legislative and ballot initiative campaigns and “understands how to build credible coalitions” around complex issues. He is a graduate of Florida State University and attended the University of Illinois School of Law.
It was unclear whether Bell has any previous experience in or ties to Maine. Neither Bell nor Jim Gorman, SAM’s current president, could be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
In the written statement, Bell expressed excitement about joining SAM’s staff and working to build upon the organization’s “impressive statewide grass-roots network of advocates” on sporting issues.
“This will be a team effort,” he said. “I will work nonstop for and alongside of SAM members to fight for the passage of pro-sportsmen legislation and regulations.”
For nearly 20 years, Smith has maintained a high-profile presence in the halls of the State House, playing a visible role on a myriad of issues ranging from bear baiting to funding for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
At the time of his announcement, Smith and several SAM board members said both sides agreed it was time for him to step down and for a new executive director to step up.
Smith said he was hoping to work fewer hours and spend more time enjoying the outdoors while SAM leaders wanted the executive director to assume more of the responsibilities of a business manager in addition to lobbying and advocacy.