Candidate takes pledge

Can you imagine a political candidate who has met face to face over the past year with 11,000 West Virginians, asking what they’d do if they were governor? Candidates have routinely shown up at buckwheat feeds and spaghetti suppers shaking hands and smiling at babies, but only Charleston native Stephen Smith, in his run for governor, has held 200 Town Hall meetings from Martinsburg to Mingo County, Bluefield to Chester.

Stephen Smith is not a Left-Right politician. In fact, he is not a politician at all. He is a smart, dedicated West Virginian who, with a team of hundreds of imaginative West Virginians, has created an original, sensible detailed platform with a budget based on a more equitable tax structure, allocating resources enough for young people to make a life here, for seniors to have what they need and share their skills, for encouraging and supporting educators and school students, while creating jobs for people in recovery, unemployed miners and thousands of others.

This is not pie-in-the-sky. Smith’s programs are buttressed by hard math and a working budget. As the WV Can’t Wait website declares, “It sure doesn’t feel like it, but right now we’re creating more wealth than ever before in West Virginia’s history. This should be our golden age.” At the height of the global pandemic, Smith has realigned his campaign into a coronavirus assistance program.

This week Stephen Smith is going public with ideas not seen since Franklin Roosevelt was President. If we elect Smith, and vote for the other 93 Not-For-Sale candidates who pledged not to take corporate money, West Virginia will become the envy of the nation, showcasing an economy rebounding like Roosevelt’s New Deal eight decades ago. Stephen Smith’s West Virginia Can’t Wait movement envisions a Mountaineer Service Corps Jobs Program, a $15 minimum wage, a Freedom Dividend, plans to fix roads, support veterans, crack down on corruption, foster small businesses and the arts, end homelessness and mass incarceration, and end absentee land ownership, to name a few. Every plan has a section on “How We Pay for It.”

Surely no other candidate for WV governor has put this kind of collective thought and community effort into salvaging West Virginia for our land and people. Smith insists that we do not have to choose between our health and our bank accounts, that our medical care need not be dependent upon or linked to our employment. His website reflects the importance of our current health and well-being, and calls on West Virginians to exercise “the kind of boldness that honors the sacrifices of our grandparents, and the futures of our children.”

Haven’t heard of Stephen Smith? That’s because, in place of expenditures for costly political commercials, his campaign uses its funds to organize citizens and bolster community health, and is just now launching its first TV ad. When you vote, support Stephen Smith for Governor and the other 93 Not-For-Sale candidates who have taken the WV Can’t Wait pledge against corporate financing of their campaign! It’s time to buy into a government for us all. Vote absentee or in person by June 9!

Carrie Nobel Kline



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