Born and Raised in Ward 8

OPINION by Charleston City Council Candidate Malyka Knapp-Smith

Photo By Chris Jackson

My name is Malyka Knapp-Smith.

I am a lifelong resident of Ward 8 and an independent candidate in West Virginia for Charleston City Council. “Born and Raised in Ward 8” is my campaign slogan, and my father, Dr. Cubert Smith, served on Charleston City Council for 12 years until his death in 2018. He was running for his 4th term serving the people of Charleston when he was stricken with a series of strokes. He was indeed a man for the people of our ward. Charleson’s first Black Fire chief, Chuck Overstreet, and current city council member, was mentored by my Dad. Chuck shares a story about my Dad being named after James Cubert Campbell, Charleston’s first Black City Councilperson over one hundred years ago. Read The Cambell Family Story on BBG

I am running to continue that legacy.

I need your vote on November 8th to make our city a better place for all of us. But, as with all elections, this election depends on us working together to be the change we want to see, so your vote is just the beginning.

What do we need on the East End of Charleston? A grocery store!

I know this will be a challenge, but I have colleagues running for adjacent East End wards working with me to solve this. Of course, we also have the challenge of abandoned properties, homelessness, and addiction.

The future is in our hands. Due to a shrinking population, West Virginia lost a seat in Congress, meaning a weaker voice in Washington, D.C. That puts more importance on banding together for positive change. We must not become complacent and only fight for single issues. It’s about the future of our state and generations to come.

As an adult educator at Mountain State Educational Serrvices Cooperative in Kanawha County, I see students come to our new building (500 Leon Sullivan Way) and work to make something of themselves and to feel they matter. Voting is one way to show you matter and to let your voice be heard.

Your voice matters. Your opinion matters.

A recent article shows that West Virginia’s minority population consists of 3.7% Black or African American, 0.6% Asian, 1.0% Hispanic or Latino, 0.0% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 1.1% two or more races. While it’s a slim margin, elections have been decided on less. We still have a voice, and we need to use it.

Along with other candidates, I was invited to Capital High School to meet with seniors registering to vote for the first time. It was refreshing to talk with so many students interested in the future of Charleston and what we, as elected officials, could work toward. No empty promises, just a pledge to work together to continue to make Charleston the place we call home.

I am home. I’m not planning to move.

I want to work to make Charleston a place where more local graduates put down roots and never leave. We owe it to our beautiful state to stay and help keep it Wild and Wonderful West “by God” Virginia.

You can find out more about me at, and remember, we vote at Garnet (422 Dickinson Street) on November 8!

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