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Independent Bell Launches Campaign

Brandon Bell

by Valerie Garner

“Jobs, jobs and more jobs,” said Brandon Bell who announced the formal kickoff of his campaign at Information Products on Apperson Drive Tuesday. Bell is running as an independent, challenging Republican Senator Ralph Smith for the seat in the redrawn 19th district.

He sent Senator Smith a “simple message … You’re fired!”

Bell and Senator Smith are no strangers. They faced each other in a Republican primary for the now “missing” 22nd senate seat in 2007. Senator Smith won that race but Bell doesn’t think that is going to happen again. He is looking for organizations to invite them for a debate.

“Most everyone agrees that we are long overdue for a private sector focused job creation plan … the weak recovery we have seen has been based on federal government stimulus,” said Bell.

Bell took Smith to task for moving all over the region just to keep his job while so many have lost their jobs. “The only job he seems to be worried about is his own … he is a multi-millionaire and doesn’t have to worry about a full-time job,” he said.

Bell held up a letter his wife Debbie received from Senator Smith that touted the 10 of 14 bills passed in the 2011 session that became law.

Bell blasted Smith for failing to introduce even one bill that created a job. “Unlike my opponent, I have a plan to create jobs,” he said. He admitted it wouldn’t be easy but promised it would be his number one priority and that he would spend all the time it took “to effect real change.”

First he would “waive state and local taxes for new businesses for the first three years they are operating.” He contends that by eliminating the tax burden, small business ventures would blossom.

“It will make it easier for entrepreneurs to take the risk,” said Bell.

Second, he would lower the state corporate income tax from 6% percent to 3% percent for three years if they locate a new branch or department in rural communities. Historical rural areas are forgotten in Richmond and Bell said he planned to change that.

The third step would be integrating higher education into international economic development plans. As a board member of the Radford University Board of Visitors, Bell sees colleges and universities as the backbone to succeeding in the new information age.

He would push for increased funding to public schools and community colleges in an effort to expand technical programs. He pointed to the long-term unemployed needing to acquire new skills to reenter the workforce.

With federal budget cuts on the horizon, he sees warning signs. “Ralph Smith has no plan to address the jobs crisis in Southwest Virginia and no plan to deal with the coming downsizing of the Federal government … He has not offered a single solution,” said Bell.

Bell concluded that Senator Smith “is one state employee we can afford to let go.” Send him a message and tell him – “You’re fired.”

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