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Three named as candidates to replace longtime Senator Unger

Three names have been submitted to fill the vacancy of Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, who resigned earlier this month.

The three candidates submitted for consideration by Gov. Jim Justice include Michelle Barnes Russell, Donn Marshall and Hannah Geffert.

The names were submitted by 16th Senate District Democrats. The committee met, held interviews, and voted before submission.

Justice has five days to make his selection.

A special legislative session has been widely discussed for early October to consider West Virginia’s redistricting plans. Every 10 years, following the Census, states use new population numbers to adjust their political districts. There may also be fiscal matters during that possible special session.

Unger resigned last month to take a new role as a county magistrate. Unger said he will focus on the challenges of trauma, depression, fear and addiction.

“Therefore, to do this, I will transition from the legislative branch to the judicial branch to serve the people as a magistrate as well as continue to serve in the ministry as a pastor and priest,” Unger wrote in his resignation letter.

Barnes Russell was a Berkeley County school board member but was not re-elected in 2020. She has also served on the West Virginia Women’s Commission.

Marshall was a House of Delegates candidate in 2014. He withdrew when he accepted a job with the U.S. Department of Defense. The Shepherdstown resident lost his wife, Shelley Marshall, when she died in the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Geffert is a retired political science professor who taught at Shepherd University.


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