PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE 11/29/2018 9:05 P.M.
The race for West Virginia governor isn't for another two years, but one candidate is already getting his campaign started.
Stephen Smith hopes to become the next governor of his home state.
He's running as a Democrat.
His visit to Parkersburg is the first stop on the campaign trail. He'll go across the state during the next three weeks.
He was at North Hills to talk about why he's the right choice for voters.
"So I'm running because I feel like this is a moment in the country, in the state, that happens once every 50 or so years that things are so broken, real change becomes possible," he said.
Smith is 38-years-old. Governor Jim Justice said in October he will likely run for reelection.
West Virginia native Stephen Smith, a Democratic candidate for governor, will make a campaign stop in Parkersburg on Thursday.
The 38-year-old Smith announced his candidacy on Wednesday.
“Our state doesn’t need one leader," he said. "We need a thousand. We need a movement.”
His visit to Parkersburg is one of 12 kickoff events scheduled across the state during the next three weeks.
Thursday’s event will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 122 Brentwood Heights in Parkersburg.
Smith’s campaign plans an official launch party on Jan. 5 at the United Miner Workers of America Local 1440 hall in Matewan.
Smith said he’s a fourth-generation West Virginian who returned to the state six years ago. His family moved away when he was a child after his parents found work out of state.
Since his return to the state, Smith has served as director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, which he said has helped pass more than two dozen pieces of legislation focused on improving health insurance, raising the minimum wage and providing school breakfasts for kids.
The group also has sponsored hundreds of community projects, after-school programs and small-business start-ups.