CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s boots on the ground now for the Kanawha County Commission as they discuss who will temporarily fill the recently vacant seat on the commission.

The now just two commissioners, Lance Wheeler and Ben Salango opened up discussions Monday regarding the timeline and procedure for filling the vacancy left behind by longtime and now retired commissioner Kent Carper following previous battle with health issues and an investigation into alleged misconduct.

They met at the Voter’s Registration Office in Charleston for a special meeting regarding the matter after taking all morning to canvass votes from last Tuesday’s May Primary Election.

After the seat became officially vacant on May 12, the commissioners have until this Friday, May 24 to look over resumes of qualified candidates and make their selection.

Lance Wheeler

Commission President Wheeler said during the meeting that the process of hiring someone to fill the role until November’s General Election will be handled as fairly and efficiently as possible. He said the candidate will officially be appointed during another special meeting on Thursday, May 30.

“We are going to make sure we do this as transparent as possible, and we’ll make sure on the 30th for the county commission meeting that candidates will have received a notice, and it will be on a public agenda in front of everyone who wants to be here,” said Wheeler.

Also during Monday’s meeting, commissioners made the decision to rescind a portion of Order 2013-309 pertaining to the hiring process of a new commissioner.

Specially, they made the motion to do away with the public interview process of that order. Commissioner Salango said he had to go through it in 2017 and it came down to him and a group of others in the same room being grilled on questions, and he said it hardly seemed a fair or efficient process.

“It’s just unnecessary, I’m not aware of any other government that would do that kind of process, so certainly it’s my recommendation that we rescind that portion of 2013-309,” Salango said.

Wheeler said he agreed that the process wasn’t being conducted in an efficient way and he believes it will go a lot smoother without that portion.

“I watched that at the time actually and that was very daunting for the people that came out and spoke,” he said. “I think this is something that we can come together, figure out someone for the next seven months, and get somebody who is big in the community and is able to work hard.”

The vacancy is currently being advertised on Kanawha County’s website and through a legal ad.

Ben Salango

They are encouraging qualified candidates to send in their resumes and cover letters to County Manager Jennifer Herrald at [email protected]. She will then forward all cover letters/ resumes over to the commissioners for review.

Former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant who won the Democratic nomination for Kanawha County Commission during the Primary Election, or Republican nominee winner and former state senator Chris Walters will be running against each other this November during the General Election for the commission seat.

After canvassing votes all Monday morning for the overall election, the commissioners say they are just waiting on a few more hand counts until the election can be certified on May 30. They had 48 hours from the point of Monday’s meeting to canvass all of the votes, but Salango said they could make adjustments if need be.

“If we needed to, like for any local elections, we could certify before then and just wait for the final county to turn in their votes,” he said.

Those who want to apply for the vacant spot on the commission must turn in their resumes and cover letters by Friday at 5 p.m.