House of Delegates Candidate Robert E. Smith on Phasing in Public Broadband and Phasing Out the Vehicle Property Tax

What city has the fastest, most reliable internet in the country?

Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Because it’s run as a public utility – run by the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga.

Now comes Robert E. Smith. He’s running as a Mountain Party candidate for House of Delegates in the 59th district – which includes the southern part of Morgan County and western parts of Berkeley County. 

He will be running against Republican Ken Reed and Independent Patricia Adams.

As part of his platform, Smith is calling for a Chattanooga-like broadband internet system for West Virginia.

“Broadband is essential for business, commerce, school, and much more,” Smith says on his campaign website. “Career politicians have failed to assure that high-speed internet is accessible for all West Virginians at a low cost. The tax dollars the state intends to waste on a bond issue to finance the polluting Rockwool project could be better spent setting up a broadband service owned by the Citizens of West Virginia and controlled at the local level.”

“This is a massive undertaking that will require a public owned broadband company,” Smith told Russell Mokhiber on the Morgan County USA Podcast. “It would be owned by the citizens of West Virginia. The reality is — establishing the broadband infrastructure in West Virginia – there’s not a whole lot of profit. That’s why Frontier has done terribly. Nobody is willing to invest in the digital infrastructure of West Virginia because they can’t make a profit. So, if no one else is willing to do that, the citizens need to stand up and be the ones to take this over. And in case after case, anywhere that there’s been municipal broadband, that’s public –  it’s far cheaper it’s far faster. Why don’t we jump on this?”

“I mentioned that $150 million that the state is prepared to waste on Rockwool. That is enough to set up a broadband system for this state. We could have a turnkey system within a year.”

On jobs and the economy, Smith would “adjust the minimum wage annually for inflation, and make giant corporations contribute their fair share in taxes, while offering workers relief such as reducing the Vehicle Property Tax.”

“In our rapidly changing world, we need to make it easier for start-up businesses to set up shop in West Virginia. The brewing and distillery industries are a classic examples of excessive red tape.”

Smith will be attending his first candidate forum tomorrow (Friday, August 14, 2020) at the Purple Iris in Martinsburg, West Virginia from 12 noon to 1:30. The forum is being sponsored by the Eastern Panhandle Business Association. 

Candidates for the House of Delegates 58th and 59th districts and the West Virginia Senate 15th and 16th districts have been invited to attend. 

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