With the clock ticking down to the Sept. 22 start of early voting, proponents of the road bond amendment are hastily assembling a campaign to encourage voters to support the bond referendum election on Oct 7.
“Obviously, it’s a late start,” said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. “A bunch of us just kind of came together to try to develop a plan and are trying hard to raise some money to get a message out.”
Clowser said representatives of a number of interested parties, including chambers of commerce, Coal Association, Manufacturers’ Association, and organized labor, are working to put together an advertising campaign, under the auspices of West Virginians for Better Transportation.
For more than a decade, the statewide coalition of more than 300 businesses and organizations has advocated for enhanced spending for better roads and transportation. Early in each legislative session, the group hosts a rally at the Capitol that includes an annual update on deteriorating road conditions statewide.
Clowser said that, given the time constraints, the non-profit WVBT was the logical option to raise funds and place ads promoting the road bond.
“The campaign you’re going to see from West Virginians for Better Transportation is going to be just the facts about creating jobs and creating a safer transportation network,” he said.
Clowser said radio spots will begin airing this week, with television and newspaper ads to launch next week.
He said the campaign will highlight road projects to be funded in various parts of the state with the $1.6 billion of road bond revenue. He said it also will answer what he said is misinformation about the bond issue, including that it would require additional new taxes, and that some parts of the state would not see new construction.
“We want to make sure people have a clear understanding of what this is, and most importantly, what this is not,” Clowser said.
He said most West Virginians want better roads and highways, and the campaign will emphasize the bond referendum is a window of opportunity that probably won’t reopen if the “2017 Roads to Prosperity” amendment is rejected.
“People will have to determine if we want to jumpstart jobs and jumpstart the economy,” he said, adding, “Either we do it now, or we may never do it again.”