Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley is biking the battleground states as part of an ongoing series, visiting 14 states in 14 days to hear what real Americans think of the 2020 election. All of her interviews may be found HERE.
HUNTINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA — Make way for the pink elephant. For the pig to fly. For the you know where to freeze. For the blue moon to blaze. For the four-leaf clover among the bed of three’s.
What’s the deal?
There’s a Democrat who just said this: “I might have ‘D’ after my name, but I [also] have capital ‘C’ after my name — capitalist.”
Gasp. It’s a unicorn. A unicorn in West Virginia, named Stephen Williams.
He’s the mayor of Huntington, he’s been in that office since 2013, and he’s a Democrat who openly, unreservedly, unabashedly talks about cutting taxes — who walks the walks on cutting taxes — who talks and walks a policy that lowers taxes on businesses to spark hiring that in turn sparks spending in the community.
In context of discussing how Huntington’s fared, economically speaking, on the coronavirus, Williams said, “”Frankly, I think that we found ourselves prepared to deal with this [pandemic] because of issues that we had to deal with in the past. Six years ago, we were considered the epicenter of the opioid epidemic. It was amazing how our community came together, everybody identifying their role to play — and we were really shooting from the hip. We had no infrastructure in place, we had nobody with which to copy. We were about the only city in the nation hitting this [opioid epidemic] on the head at the time.”
So what Huntington did was what everybody in America wishes politicians on Capitol Hill would do — come together as one to solve a common problem.
Williams said partnerships to fight the drug addiction and overdose rates formed among “institutions, neighborhoods, faith groups,” businesses — and “in essence, what we found is in the midst of a crisis, how do we roll up our sleeves and address it?”
From that collaboration came wisdom and experience for the next battle.
“We learned an awful lot from that,” Williams said. “When the pandemic came, we didn’t miss a beat. We just simply let everything [stay] that was already in place … but to address the pandemic.”
And one of the major issues to face from the coronavirus was the hit to the economy — the drag on business — the lay-offs and closures and sudden shut-downs of sources of income.
This is where Williams — the Democrat! — astonishes.
Instead of simply crying for government rescue and using citizens as a bargaining tool and wedge for federal dollars, Williams, along with his city council, cut business taxes.
Cut retail and restaurant taxes.
Cut capital spending that had been planned, that had been in the works, to — get this — have the cash on hand to keep people employed.
In other words: Williams — the Democrat! — reeled in spending and redirected the money toward more important things.
He explained it this way: “My background is in finance and investment banking and the brokerage business. So I might have ‘D’ after my name but I have capital C after my name — capitalist. I understand how markets work.”
What a rare find.
Capitol Hill could take a lesson.
But better than that, America, all of America, can take a deep breath.
It’s uncommon to find a politician of any party who truly puts the people first, above personal agenda. But it’s practically unheard of to find a Democrat, in this day and age of divisive politicking and socialist-slash-collectivist thinking that’s become the Democrat Party — it’s practically unheard of to find a Democrat in office who talks about slashing taxes and living within financial means and who speaks in favorable terms about capitalism.
Practically unheard of — and refreshingly inspiring.
It’s a wonderful surprise to know in some parts of America, Democrats still —openly, proudly — respect the country’s capitalistic way.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.