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Three Picked For Vacant Senate Seat

By Staff | Jan 25, 2017

PARKERSBURG — Two of the three nominees for a vacancy in the West Virginia Senate 2nd District are from Tyler and Wetzel counties.

The 2nd Senatorial Committee of the West Virginia Republican nominated Ginger Nalley of Tyler County, Charles Clements of Wetzel County and Kent Pauley of Monongalia County to succeed Kent Leonhardt of Monongalia County, who won the election in 2016 for commissioner of agriculture and resigned last week upon taking the office.

The committee, meeting in West Union on Monday, forwarded the three nominees to Gov. Jim Justice, who has five days to choose from among the three.

Nalley, who ran for the 2nd District in 2016 and lost in the Republican primary to Sen. Mike Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, was appreciative of the selection.

“I thanked them very much,” she said.

Nalley said the campaign for the Senate last year was her first.

She was a stay-at-home mom, a PTA president and was involved in 4-H, the Tyler County Extension Service Committee and Sistersville FFA. She and her husband, Bob, owned numerous businesses including in farming, furniture and timber.

A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution serving in various local and state capacities, Nalley last year came to the defense of Tyler County Board of Education President Bonnie Henthorn, who decided to home-school her children rather than put them in public schools.

The 2nd Distinct is among the geographically largest in the state. The nine-county district includes part of Monongalia County, part of Marshall County, part of Marion County, part of Gilmer County, Tyler County, Doddridge County, Ritchie County and Calhoun County.

Law prevents two people from the same county to be in the Senate, except in Kanawha County where are four, so no one from Marshall County was eligible for the appointment.

Clements, a businessman who owned the Clements Oil Co. and is now the office manager for H.R. Block, is the executive director of the West Virginia Route 2 and I-68 Authority, a multi-county agency dedicated to the expansion of West Virginia Route 2 and possibly connecting Route 2 with I-68 in Monongalia County.

He served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from the 5th District from 1995-1998, ran for the Senate and lost, then lost a bid for the House in 2000 to Democrat Dave Pethtel. Clements last year was unsuccessful for the Wetzel County Commission, losing in the general election to Democrat Lisa Heasley.

The committee, familiar with the backgrounds of the applicants, asked questions on positions on numerous issues, such as education, job creation and economic development, right to work and natural gas exploration, Clements said.

“They were trying to get people looking to move this state forward instead of sitting in the back,” he said.

Pauley is a contractor from Morgantown who specializes in remodeling and restoration. He ran for assessor in 2012 in Monongalia County and was unsuccessful.

The committee asked 16 questions and there was 20 minutes to answer all of them, he said.

The old ways of governance have to change, Pauley said. The state is facing a $400 million shortfall and everyone has to work together to find solutions, he said.

The Republican Party is the majority party in both houses of the Legislature. In 2016, Republicans also won the election to the offices of the commissioner of agriculture, secretary of state and auditor, joining Republican incumbent Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Justice has five days to choose from this list of nominees. The appointee will take office prior to the reconvening of the 2017 Legislature on Feb. 8, according to Conrad Lucas, state Republican Party chairman.

The appointment will be for the remainder of the term ending with the certification of the 2018 general election, Lucas said.

“We are proud again of our citizens who served the 2nd District by offering themselves for nomination, and for all those tasked with making wise choices for these nine counties and their future representative in Charleston,” Lucas said. “Every time we seek replacement officeholders to send to the Legislature, we are impressed by both the quality and quantity of those who step forward. Current and former officeholders, business leaders and concerned conservatives all offered their time and labor Monday to help make West Virginia great again.”