CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Commission will meet Monday to discuss next steps on filling a vacant seat created by the departure of former longtime Commissioner Kent Carper.

Ben Salango

Carper, a Democrat, resigned last week after a series of medical issues and an investigation that involved allegations of lewd behavior at Daniel Boone Park in Charleston.

The commission will begin canvassing votes from Tuesday’s election at the Voter’s Registration Office. It will be followed by a special meeting of the commission beginning at 12 p.m.

Commission President Lance Wheeler and Commissioner Ben Salango will discuss the application process.

“We’re going to announce the deadline to submit application and resumes to fill the spot,” Salango said on Friday’s “580 Live” with Dave Allen heard on 580-WCHS.

Salango said candidates must meet certain qualifications to apply. The applicant must be a registered Democrat and must live in District 1 or 4. Salango represents District 2 and Wheeler represents District 3.

If Salango, a Democrat, and Wheeler, a Republican, cannot reach a decision, the Kanawha County Democratic Executive Committee will step in and submit names.

“The Democratic Executive Committee, since that is the party where the vacancy is, they submit three names. Now, since I’m the senior commissioner, I would strike out a name and then Lance would strike out a name and whoever is left is the commissioner,” Salango explained.

Salango said he would like it to be a closed interview process. He said filling Carper’s position won’t be an easy task and that he’s looking for stability on the commission more than anything.

“I want someone with a level head. I don’t want it to be political,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot, and I want things to be calm for a while.”

Carper underwent quadruple bypass surgery in May 2023. The allegation that Carper exposed himself to a woman at the park came the same week as his strokes and heart attack.

Carper’s name still appeared on Tuesday’s Primary Election ballot even though he dropped out of the race against former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant days before that. Tennant won the Democratic nomination for county commissioner and will face Republican nominee Chris Walters in November.

Whoever is elected in the General Election will assume office in Jan. 2025. Salango said they need someone to fill Carper’s seat until then. He said it won’t be an easy task given Carper’s legacy in Kanawha County.

“It’s some big shoes to fill,” Salango said. “He was an advocate for law enforcement, for public safety, many of the things that we now see in routine Kent had worked on for years and decades. He had really done a wonderful job.”

Carper served on the commission since 1996, many of those years as president. Earlier this year, he stepped aside from the president’s role.

The commission will hold a special meeting on May 30 to fill the vacancy.