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A different kind of campaign

To the Editor,

Recently, I was surprised during an online “house party” with good friends from the Northern Panhandle they had not heard of Stephen Smith. They also told me they have not seen many yard signs for his campaign. As a former Weirton resident, I encourage you to get to know Stephen by visiting wvcantwait.com or attending a Zoom house party with him before you cast your vote on June 9.

I am a registered Independent and had never volunteered or donated to a political campaign until this year. My concern for the amount of money needed to run for office and the fact that politicians donate huge sums to their own campaigns has grown. I fear corruption begins when those running for office accept sizable donations from corporations, political action groups, nonprofits, and individuals. Do donors desire an ambassadorship or other prestigious post? Will the donor’s company benefit from a contract or legislation passed? Once in office, will money a candidate invested in a campaign be returned with a huge profit?

When my daughter told me about Stephen Smith and the way he was organizing his campaign and encouraging others to share his principles, I was intrigued. With some neighbors, I co-hosted a town hall and witnessed the sincerity, positivity and enthusiasm he greeted everyone attending — regardless of their party affiliation. I became one of many volunteers helping Stephen to run a campaign by sharing time, talents, and postage stamps. We offer temporary “bed and breakfast” homes as he and his staff drive around the state getting to know who we are and what we care about. I became a neighborhood captain, checking on those who may need help during this pandemic — just one of many ways Stephen has revolutionized politics. My husband and I donated what we could to his campaign. And we paid $10 for the yard sign proudly proclaiming that Stephen Smith is not for sale. For sure, Stephen Smith is running a different type of campaign!

The Martinsburg Journal reported on April 11 that Governor Justice has loaned his campaign $1 million. Former Commerce Department secretary Woody Thrasher loaned his campaign $2.6 million. Former House of Delegates member Mike Folk has $92,100 in loans to his campaign, and Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango loaned his campaign $500,000.

Stephen Smith continues to out-raise his competition with donations of less than $250 from people like me. More teachers have donated to his campaign than to any other candidate. How has he solicited this support? The old-fashioned way — town halls, phone calls, knocking on doors, and volunteers who believe in him. His campaign has no loans or donations from corporations, nor is he self-funding his campaign.

Campaign finance is NOT the only reason Stephen will have my vote. If you have questions, email him. Stephen looks forward to one on one phone conversations. He is open to hearing from all, regardless of party affiliation and will make time for you. You likely will not see many expensive TV ads or yard signs, but consider inviting Stephen to your family or friend Zoom house party!

You should have received your application form for an absentee by now. If you are an independent, consider requesting a Democratic ballot when you complete your absentee ballot application, so you can vote for Stephen in the primary. If you have a party affiliation, learn more about Stephen so you can consider why WV can’t wait for more candidates like him to work for us.

Fay Asfour Stump

Former Hancock County educator

Hedgesville, W.Va.

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