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10,000 Voices, Not One: Smith Campaign Launches Second Statewide Tour

By Staff | Aug 28, 2019

Sistersville, W.Va. – Gubernatorial candidate Stephen Smith is coming back to Tyler County on Thursday, August 29, 2019. The 39 year-old foster parent and anti-poverty advocate has been called a “genuine populist” and a “fresh face” in local and national news stories. And in a 2018 article featuring Smith as the state’s West Virginian of the Year, West Virginia Living magazine called the campaign “unlike any in West Virginia history.” This summer, what that looks like is a whole lot of listening.

“We’re doing more than 10,000 face-to-face, one-on-one conversations with West Virginians this summer. My job – any candidate’s job – is not speak for the people of West Virginia,” Smith said. “My job is to be led by them. That’s why we’re starting with listening.”

Smith can’t do all 10,000 of those conversations by himself, of course. Instead, his campaign operates under the banner of the West Virginia Can’t Wait movement (wvcantwait.com, facebook.com/wvcantwait). The movement includes 55 volunteer-led county teams and 37 volunteer-led constituency teams (Veterans Can’t Wait, Seniors Can’t Wait, People in Recovery Can’t Wait, and so on). There are an additional 46 (and counting) down-ballot candidates who have signed a WV Can’t Wait Pledge, promising, along with Smith, to not to take “corporate cash,” “hide from a debate,” or “cross a picket line.” All those volunteers, captains, and candidates will pitch in to reach the 10,000 total by the fall.

Meanwhile, at each of Smith’s tour stops this summer, he’ll be having these one-to-one conversations himself, in addition to welcoming and training more West Virginians to join the movement’s ranks.

“Good Old Boy politicians treat voters like we’re stupid,” offered Katey Lauer, Stephen Smith’s Campaign Manger. “They lie, they pander, they poll, and mostly they attack their opponents as a way to avoid the hard work of actually addressing the energies our state is facing. We think West Virginia voters are tired of politicians trying to convince us what’s in our own best interest, trying to use us for their own political gain. We don’t need sales pitches. We need solutions. And that’s why we’re starting with West Virginians. The people that are closest to a problem are often the ones who know the most about how to solve it.”

Each of the 10,000 conversations Smith and the WV Can’t Wait team will have in the coming months will be recorded on paper, or by an app called Reach, so that the campaign can make sure that each person’s opinion is included in the platform creation process culminating in November.

Lauer also said that the campaign is especially interested in hearing from “wage workers, seniors, veterans, people in recovery, students, small business owners,” and other “West Virginians who don’t often have a real seat at the table.”

In addition to this field operation, the Smith for WV Campaign is also winning the early fundraising race. Smith’s team outraised every other gubernatorial candidate, including Thrasher and Justice, combined. “To get a government of the people, we need a campaign funded by the people,” Smith said.

Stop by the Sistersville Library at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 29, 2019 to share your concerns with Stephen. To learn more about his platform, visit wvcantwait.com/. If you have questions, feel free to contact Katrina Byers by phone at 304-771-7388. You may also contact Chris Hoke at 304-758-2745.

Want to join the campaign and help make sure your neighbors, co-workers, and family members’ ideas are represented? Sign-up for one of a half-dozen on-line trainings happening this summer here: docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfNc8MNbmzx6aQvzxiAW4YD-zQo4trLyF3KYOw539SzpL0HPw/viewform.