CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango says he’s confident that he and fellow commissioner, Commission President Lance Wheeler, will be able to fill a vacancy on the commission Thursday night from a list of seven qualifying applicants.

Ben Salango

There’s a vacancy on the commission following the recent retirement of longtime commission member Kent Carper.

Carper was a Democrat so Salango and Wheeler must choose a Democrat. The person will serve about six months until the fall election decides the winner of a full term. Former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat, and former state Senator Chris Walters, a Republican, advanced following the May Primary Election.

If Salango and Wheeler can’t agree on one of the seven there’s a process that would allow the Kanawha County Democratic Executive Committee to submit three names to the commission and then Salango and Wheeler would strike one name each and the remaining name would be the commissioner. Salango said he doesn’t think that process will be needed.

“I’m confident that Commission President Wheeler and I can agree on a replacement (Thursday night),” Salango told MetroNews.

Lance Wheeler

The seven applicants for the six-month term include Tennant, Kanawha County Delegate Larry Rowe, longtime county commission attorney Marc Slotnick, attorney Chris Negley, Kanawha Valley Fellowship Home Executive Director Richard Daugherty, teacher and retired firefighter Richard Symns and IBEW Local 317 rep Michael Scarberry.

Salango said it’s a good list.

“We’ve had a lot of people interested and we have seven great resumes. It will be tough to pare that down but I’m sure we’ll be able to reach an agreement,” Salango said.

There will be no open interviews during the commission meeting Thursday. Salango said he and Wheeler have gone over the cover letters and resumes and they’ll discuss the applicants and take a vote. He said experience is a key.

“We want somebody that can hit the ground running, somebody that can step in, who understands the job, can get to work immediately,” Salango said. “We have a lot of important votes coming up, a lot of important matters and we want somebody who understands their role and there won’t be a learning curve.”

The commission meeting begins at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Carper resigned earlier month after a long year of serious medical challenges and an investigation that unfolded after allegations of lewd behavior at a local roadside park. The investigation concluded without charges.

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