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West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Stephen Smith prepping platform

PARKERSBURG — A candidate for West Virginia governor plans meetings around the state toward developing a platform.

Democrat Stephen Smith was in Parkersburg on Friday, meeting with supporters and representatives of the Construction Trades Council for Parkersburg and Marietta and Chris Gilmer, president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

Smith, of Charleston, is the former director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. Among Democrats in the race for the party’s nomination are Jody Murphy of Parkersburg, Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango and Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone.

The campaign is taking the information gleaned from the 129 organized meetings, hundreds of campaign visits and discussions with residents and will develop a platform, according to Smith. Meetings to review the platform issues will be held with a meeting anticipated in Parkersburg 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at the residence at 102 Brentwood Heights.

Among the common themes raised by residents was what they perceive as corruption, but mostly from the belief that the government no longer belongs to or represents them, Smith said. People believe it is controlled by out-of-state interests.

Smith also pointed out that his campaign set a record, receiving 4,397 individual campaign contributions. In contrast, a campaign self-funded by a millionaire or billionaire candidate makes them accountable only to themselves, he said.

He is encouraged that 59 candidates have signed on to the West Virginia Can’t Wait pledge. The candidate pledges to not accept corporate political action money, money from pharmaceutical companies, energy companies or out-of state land companies and will participate in any debate, meet monthly with residents and never cross a picket line, among other promises.

Initially, Smith said he thought from five to 10 candidates signed the pledge.

“We’re adding more each week,” he said.

Smith pointed out his campaign staff is the first to be unionized in the state of West Virginia. Campaign staff are organized with the Campaign Workers Guild, Smith said.

Organizing under the union shows how the campaign adheres to its values, Smith said.

“Which we’re proud of,” he said.

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