CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The election of county prosecutors would become non-partisan in a bill moving through the state Senate.
The measure, SB 204, would make the votes for the 55 county prosecutors non-partisan and final in the May election. According to the bill, the change would begin with the May 2024 vote.
The bill mirrors a change made in 2016 in the election of Supreme Court justices, circuit judges, Family Court judges and county magistrates. The Senate bill does include one key difference, requiring a runoff election if in a multi-candidate race no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote. The runoff would happen in the November election.
Senator Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, was able to amend the Senate bill when it came before the judiciary committee last week.
“I became concerned when we made the non-partisan election of judges,” Clements said. “When we had that first election someone may have been able to get a seat on the Supreme Court with 15 percent of the vote. I don’t think that’s what people want.”
Senator Mike Romano agreed with Clements.
“We really need to change the way the Supreme Court’s elected to put in a similar runoff situation. I mean, folks can get elected because they have big families and that’s dangerous in these positions that require skill and profession,” Romano said.
There is a bill in the House of Delegates, HB 2008, that would do exactly that. It passed the House Judiciary Committee in the opening days of the session but hasn’t made an agenda yet in the House Finance Committee.
It would require at least one Supreme Court candidate to receive at least 40 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan contest. If that does not happen, the top two candidates would face off in a runoff election.