CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Delegate John O’Neal, who has served in a variety of leadership roles in the House, is leaving to take a role in the Governor’s Office.
The move by O’Neal, a Republican from Beckley, was confirmed by several sources in the House. O’Neal could not be immediately reached.
The role with the Governor’s Office was not immediately clear. It’s said to begin right after Christmas.
Like all members of the House, O’Neal’s seat is up for election in the coming year.
O’Neal was first elected to the House in 2010.
He is a Hinton native and a graduate of Alderson-Broaddus.
He is a small business owner in real estate investment and management consulting. He was a teacher at Mercer Christian Academy, Summers County Schools and Greater Beckley Christian School, where he was also basketball coach.
He shares some connections with Justice through that background.
Justice grew up in Raleigh County and served briefly on the Raleigh County Board of Education. He has coached Greenbrier East basketball for more than a decade.
Since Justice switched from Democrat to Republican this past summer, he has drawn from the legislative ranks to fill a few positions.
Chief of Staff Mike Hall, a Republican, had been the Senate Finance chairman. Senator Ron Miller, a Democrat and a Greenbrier County resident like Justice, took a role as agriculture liaison for the governor.
The seat that opens up with O’Neal’s move will be another opportunity for Justice to name a new face to the Legislature.
In late October, Justice appointed Jeff Campbell of Lewisburg to a seat vacated by Delegate Stephen Baldwin.
Baldwin was named to the Senate to fill the seat vacated by Miller.
A week prior to that, Justice named Buck Jennings of Preston County to a House of Delegates seat that was vacated after the death of Delegate Tony Lewis.
Earlier that month, Justice announced the selection of Dianna Graves to represent District 38, which includes parts of Kanawha and Putnam counties, after the resignation of Delegate Nancy Foster.
In September, Justice selected Mark Drennan to fill the Senate seat that was vacated by Hall.