Senators approved House Bill 2010 Friday, creating the nonpartisan election of judges at all levels in West Virginia. The new election process would begin in 2016 and include all levels from Supreme Court Justices down to county magistrates.
Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump said on the floor of the Senate before the vote West Virginia is one of only six states in the country that still holds partisan judicial elections and the time has come for the state to make the chance.
"I contend that whether a person is a Republican or Democrat, or a Whig or a Libertarian, or whatever, tells us really nothing about whether that person possess the qualities and characteristics that we seek and desire in those who hold judicial office in West Virginia,” Trump said.
Senator Mike Romano of Harrison County said he neither supports nor opposes the bill because he doesn't think it gets to the core of the issue with elections. That issue is campaign financing.
"The time has come to look at public financing for our judges," Romano said. "It’s worked well in our Supreme Court and it does take some of the influence of big money out of the most important office in our state.”
Members of the chamber approved the bill 33 to 1.
Senator Ron Miller of Greenbrier County voted against the bill, he said, because a judge in his district strongly opposed the bill.
The bill now goes back to the House for members to consider some Senate amendments.