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HD Media is running submitted questionnaires from candidates in the 2020 elections.

Read more responses from candidates by clicking on the links at right. Candidates who have not received a questionnaire can send an email to acopley@HDMediaLLC.com with their name, candidacy and phone number.

NAME: Stephen Smith

CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Governor

PARTY: Democrat

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: wvcantwait.com

HOME CITY: Charleston

HOME COUNTY: Kanawha

AGE: 40

EDUCATION: Harvard (Bachelors) and London School of Economics (Masters)

CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Community organizer

OTHER WORK HISTORY: Director of the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Former board member of Coalfield Development Corporation, KISRA, Inc.; Kanawha County Library Board, and others.

ENDORSEMENTS: For full list, visit wvcantwait.com. Endorsements include: WV Working Families Party, Center for Popular Democracy Action Committee, Rise Up West Virginia, People for the American Way, Blue America, National Working Families Party, More than Addiction, 90 for 90, Elizabeth Warren, Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

FAMILY: wife, Sara Whitaker; son, Jackson Smith.

PERSONAL STATEMENT: From the Mine Wars to the Educators Strike, it is in our blood to fight for our people, no matter their race, their accent, or who their father was. I am proud to be a West Virginian because of that history, and I am running for Governor in order to honor it, Find the people who work the hardest and bear the most–that’s whose side we are on. No outside company or billionaire politician will save us. We must save ourselves. It is time to keep our wealth here and bet on our own people--our own kids, our own workers and small businesses.

Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:

1. With the decline in the extraction industries in West Virginia, what do you think should be done to diversify the state’s economy?

With the creation of a Public Bank of West Virginia, and by shifting out-of-state corporate tax breaks to local farmers and entrepreneurs, our state can become the best place in America for small business. And when we raise the severance tax on fossil fuels, we can afford to make our state a clean energy leader for generations to come.

2. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?

I oppose the weakening of EPA regulations. Our plan calls for stronger regulations, an increase in fines and fees for polluters, and the creation of a Corporate Crime and Political Corruption division in the state police. My 8 year-old cleans up after himself; so should out-of-state corporations. You can find details on all these plans at https://wvcantwait.com/platform-plans/.

3. What role do you see for state government in reversing West Virginia’s population decline?

West Virginia can be the best place to live, work, and raise a family - but only if we stop letting ourselves get robbed. Our plans for a New Homestead Act, loan forgiveness, a New Deal-style Mountaineer Job Corps, and Broadband for All provide a realistic, detailed, and pragmatic way toward keeping our wealth, and our people, here.

Additional questions from The Herald-Dispatch:

4. The state’s foster care system struggles to care for the 7,000 plus children who are now in it. Some action has been taken in recent months, but what further action do you think might be necessary?

As a foster parent, this is personal for me. First, we must reverse the state's disgusting decision to privatize the health care that foster children receive - a decision that adds more bureaucracy for parents and costs taxpayers more money. We must also give grandparents and kinship families the same benefits we give foster families.

5. There have been several attempts to reduce taxes on business in the state, including one failed in this past legislative session. Is it wise to keep pursuing tax breaks for business, at the possible expense of residential taxpayers? Do you think the state’s tax structure needs an overhaul?

Our tax code is rigged so that the people who have the most pay the least, and working families pay the most. At wvcantwait.com, you can see our plans for overhauling property taxes, individual taxes, and corporate taxes to favor small businesses, family farms, and the middle class -- over out-of-state corporations.

6. Do you think the educational reform bill passed in 2019 is working/will be effective?

No. Almost all West Virginians want the same things for our schools - less testing, more teaching, more hands-on learning (entrepreneurship, vocational, arts, music, etc), higher pay to compete with neighboring states, mental health professionals, and smaller class sizes. The 2019 bill fails to achieve those goals. Our plan: https://wvcantwait.com/education-plan/.

7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?

Local schools have shown an incredible ability to do more with less - forming creative partnerships with volunteers, health clinics, and mental health professionals. Now it is time for the state to hold up their end of the bargain. Even the changes the legislature has promised remain mostly unrealized.

8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?

We can make West Virginia the best place in the country to work (higher wages, free college, career and technical education in middle and high school, family paid leave, and more). The state must also start investing more in small businesses and infrastructure, and less in out-of-state corporations. More at https://wvcantwait.com/platform-plans/.

9. West Virginia has been especially hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic. What do you see as the role of the legislature in addressing this crisis?

In our Recovery Can't Wait plan (https://wvcantwait.com/recovery-cant-wait/), you will see common sense solutions to provide drug treatment on-demand, trauma-informed prevention in schools, cannabis legalization, recovery programs that are also tied to employment, and shifting tens of millions of dollars from locking people up to helping people get care.

10. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?

We must end the broadband monopolies in West Virginia. In our Broadband for All plan (https://wvcantwait.com/broadband-for-all/), we propose the creation of a state-owned "middle mile" to increase local competition, as well as stronger regulations by the Public Service Commission. We can't grow our state without quality internet.