OP-ED: KEITH LAHTI - WV Governor Candidate Refuses To Take One Dime Corporate/Dark Money

I am Keith Lahti. I live in Northern Clay County and have operated my pottery business here for 46 years. I have had a daughter in the Clay County schools. WV has been good to me and I have the best neighbors in the world on Walker Creek!

Over the decades I have observed my beloved West Virginia lag behind other states and our own potential, in part because our political process has been highly influenced by big money, much of it coming from out-of-state owned special interests. I have watched incredible amounts of West Virginia's precious and valuable resources be used to benefit wealthy interests and many of these benefits have gone to out-of-state interests and a very wealthy few. This has been at the expense of West Virginia's education system, environment, health care, infrastructure, our in-state owned businesses and many other aspects of our well-being. A look at areas of WV where coal, timber, etc. have come and gone illustrates this clearly.

With exceptions, our politicians have all too often passed legislation that benefits the big corporations and the very wealthy. This is not surprising, as that is where the money comes from to keep them in office. Tax policy, regulation, and the like are skewed very much in the direction of the big donors. The regular West Virginia small business person, working person, small farmer, caregiver, teacher, nurse, etc. has very little say in the way state government responds to needs of the majority of West Virginians.

In the summer of 2018, a fellow named Stephen Smith was criss-crossing the state, visiting folk's homes, and asking what we would like to see WV become, and giving ideas on how to make that happen. He had lunch in my kitchen and talked with me and several friends. That fall, Stephen announced that he was running for Governor, in a very different type of campaign. I have been interested in this campaign since the beginning.

Stephen Smith refuses to take any, not one dime, of corporate or dark money. He has broken the all-time records for the numbers of small individual donations in WV. He is not wealthy and has zero corporate ties. His idea from the beginning, has been that we are all leaders and decision makers, not just him. To do this he has held multiple Town Halls in every one of the 55 counties in WV, listening to what people want and need. His campaign has conducted over 11,000 interviews with West Virginians to find out what we need and made policy around those needs. I guided him through Clay County on one of his trips here. He listened to teachers, school bus drivers, library staff, counselors, Committee on Aging staff, law enforcement, the Mayor, and many people on the street. That is how he formulates policy, from the bottom up, NOT from the top down. Lobbyists and big money have zero influence on him, and he is all for giving homegrown West Virginia businesses a level playing field.

This is the movement and the ideas that I have been waiting for my whole life. Stephen Smith can help West Virginia become what it should be, by using our wealth, resources, and amazing people to benefit our own state instead of flowing out to wealthy special interests. This is the best chance to see the change we need in West Virginia. (by the way, Stephen is all for 2nd Amendment rights and DOES NOT want to take your guns away!)

You can check this out in detail at https://wvcantwait.com/. If you want to connect directly with Stephen Smith, you can contact him at Stephen@wvcantwait.com

PLEASE VOTE, and take a good look at Stephen Smith for Governor!