Take Me Home - Stephen Smith with family

Take Me Home

Take Me Home

What WV Can’t Wait For

West Virginia will be a place where our kids can stay and build a decent, fulfilling life.

Stephen Smith and fam cr

What We’re Up Against

There are thousands of young people who would love to choose West Virginia as “the place where they belong” for good. We have a low cost of living, gorgeous mountains and rivers, and a neighborly way of life

We know that we desperately need to keep and attract people who have the skills to help protect and rebuild our communities, including first responders, social workers, and frontline workers fighting the pandemic and the addiction crisis. 

But West Virginians are leaving because they’re saddled with student and medical debt, and they’re unable to pay off that debt here at home.

Total household debt in America is now at record levels, reaching $14 trillion for the first time in history.  And nearly three quarters of new graduates in West Virginia carry student debt, at an average of nearly $30,000 each. We also have the highest rate of student loan default in the nation

Additionally, because of our broken healthcare system, about 25% of Americans have struggled to pay medical bills, leading to pileups of medical debt and even bankruptcy. About one-third of West Virginians have unpaid medical bills. And that was before the pandemic, which has caused 3.5 million Americans to lose their employer-based healthcare. Already, two-thirds of people who file for bankruptcy do so as a result of medical bills.  

As a result of all of this, we’re losing about 44 of our neighbors and family members every day, roughly 34,500 people since 2008.  And it’s not just limited to a few areas. Fifty of West Virginia’s 55 counties lost people between 2017 and 2018.  

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We will unrig the system that’s driving hardworking West Virginians out-of-state.

This “Take Me Home” Plan–in addition to Higher Education for All plan and our Homestead Act–will rebuild our workforce and allow our children and grandchildren to stay here.

Our Plan

  1. We will repay student loan debt OR pay off medical debts for tens of thousands of people who take jobs in areas of public service that protect and rebuild our communities. This program will be administered through the Public Bank of West Virginia.
  2. Make it illegal to garnish wages, tax refunds, or seize property for student or medical debt.
  3. Vastly increase licensing fees and bonding for debt collectors in the state of West Virginia, and use the revenue to fund consumer protection services.
  4. Aggressively pursue violations of debt collection laws, revoke permits for violating companies, and pursue harassment charges against company executives. For executives attempting to financially profit from harassment, and with restorative justice in mind, add a mandatory penalty sufficient to pay off the debt in question.
  5. Leverage the State Bank of West Virginia to negotiate with lenders and the federal government to forgive as much debt as possible.

How We Pay For It



Every one of our New Deal plans was written by West Virginians.

  • Our volunteers asked 11,000 of their neighbors, “What would you do if you were Governor?”
  • Our candidates attended 197 Town Halls, taking notes in community centers, church basements, union halls, and small businesses.
  • Educators met after work to start sketching out their perfect school.
  • Nurses traded ideas on the picket line.
  • Our county and constituency captains ratified a first platform in the fall of 2019 and updated it in the spring of 2020 to reflect the current pandemic.

But the legacy of this New Deal dates back to John Brown and Mother Jones, to the United Mine Workers of America and the suffragettes, to the Poor People’s Movement and the CIO.

No one politician or slate of candidates can win this plan alone. We need you.

If you have an idea for how to make this plan stronger, or if you would like to lend a hand to win it, contact our candidate for Governor Stephen Smith at stephen@wvcantwait.com.

Fund the Movement

This movement runs on people power, without a dime of corporate cash. Make your donation today. Or better yet, join the ranks of our monthly donors by selecting the box during check out! 

Join the Movement

We have hundreds of volunteers in every corner of the state, and a growing slate of candidates who will need our help in 2022. It will take 1,000 leaders not 1 to win a West Virginia that works for all of us.