“We Have a Moral Responsibility”
Smith for West Virginia Campaign Launches Resource Web Page, Vows to use Field Operation to Fight Effects of Coronavirus
For Immediate Release
Last Friday, candidate for Governor Stephen Smith announced the launch of the WV Coronavirus Resource Page. The page updates every few hours with the latest state-specific news, resources (food distribution, testing information), and volunteer opportunities. More than 1500 people visited the page during its first day of operation.
The campaign also announced that it would be cancelling all crowd canvassing events, and moving all public events, town halls, and visits on-line. (Over the weekend, Wetzel, Clay, Ohio, and Gilmer County residents joined the first on-line town halls–hearing about the campaign’s platform, asking questions, and signing up for volunteer roles. They were the 195th, 196th, 197th, and 198th town halls the campaign has held.)
Sunday night, the campaign went further–announcing on an “all-campaign call” that they would be using the campaign’s field operation to do more than run a political campaign. On the call, all volunteers were encouraged to join their “Adopt-a-Voter” program. In the new program, campaign volunteers will each receive a list of 100 voters who live near them. Volunteers then check-in with those 100 voters roughly once/week with…
- information about local Coronavirus resources and volunteer opportunities at the Coronavirus Resource Page;
- suggestions for how to vote safely; and
- an offer to hear more about the campaign (and even connect with the candidate one-to-one).
“We cannot completely stop the virus from spreading. But with bold action, we can give our nurses and doctors more time and resources to blunt its impact. What we do now will determine the extent to which our friends and neighbors have to suffer. Each of us has a moral responsibility to do what we can to limit that suffering,” said Smith. “We’ve built an unprecedented volunteer operation in this campaign, and we have a duty to put it to good use.”
The Smith Campaign has also released an 11-Point Responsible Coronavirus Plan for West Virginia. The plan was created in the last few days, after receiving feedback from hundreds of supporters at the virtual Town Halls and online. The campaign’s policy committee voted to ratify it Sunday afternoon. Here’s a brief summary of the plan’s main points:
- Make free, drive-thru testing available in every county.
- Follow the advice of doctors and err on the side of prevention.
- Permit no water, gas, internet, phone, or electricity shut-offs. Permit no evictions.
- Continue to support the existing county-level response to a possible hunger crisis.
- Urge all public employees to work from home if they can (including school employees).
- Pass “paid sick days” legislation for all workers.
- Guarantee safe child care options.
- Ramp up tele-health options for people with mental health needs.
- Prioritize crisis management, transparency, and quick communication (incl. daily text alerts).
- Pass “vote by mail” legislation for all West Virginia voters.
- Begin to buffer against a recession, by starting a fund to aid locally-owned businesses.
(Voters can sign a petition supporting the plan at bit.ly/coronaviruswv.)
“West Virginia has the highest risk level of any state in the country. We are calling on Governor Justice and the legislature to convene a special session and take these simple steps. This is a disease with no vaccine and a mortality rate 10 times higher than the flu,” said Smith. “If we act fast, if we are willing to lead, we can save lives.”
Over the last year, the West Virginia Can’t Wait movement and Smith’s campaign for Governor have made a habit of pushing the envelope. Their campaign staff was the first in West Virginia history to unionize. The campaign’s policy platform was crowd-sourced at over 190 town halls, and through more than 11,000 conversations with voters. Earlier this month, the campaign’s grassroots donor strategy beat Joe Manchin’s record for most donations in a governor’s race ever. And from the beginning, the campaign sought to recruit and support other candidates to run for office. At last count, 93 candidates had signed the WV Can’t Wait pledge to reject corporate PAC money, never cross a picket line, and never hide from a debate. More than half of the 93 are 40 years old, or younger.
“We spent the last year demonstrating–through our Town Halls, candidate recruitment, and People’s Platform–how a people’s government in West Virginia could take on our state’s most pressing challenges. We have called on our collective strength, and skill and imagination to do it. In the process, we have changed what a political campaign can be and do. This moment will demand the same,” said Campaign Manager Katey Lauer. “This decision came from the bottom up. For the last week, our volunteers and County Captains have been taking action locally – organizing food distribution sites, sharing information, and calling for more action from the Governor’s office. We are following their lead.”