Liz McCormick Published

Outgoing W.Va. Lawmakers Gaunch and Upson to Head State Offices

Outgoing W.Va. Senator Ed Gaunch, R-Kanawha (right), shakes hands with Gov. Jim Justice on Dec. 4, 2018 as he accepts the position of Secretary of Commerce.

A pair of West Virginia Republican lawmakers who lost reelection bids in November will fill two open cabinet positions.

Gov. Jim Justice appointed outgoing House of Delegates member Jill Upson to fill the position of executive director of the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs. That office was previously headed by Bill White, who said the governor fired him after he was accused of sexual harassment this fall.

Upson is from Jefferson County. She was the first Republican African-American woman to be elected to the House and was the Vice Chair of the House Banking committee. She also served on the Joint Select Committee on the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse.

Justice also appointed outgoing state Senate member Ed Gaunch of Kanawha County to fill the position of state Secretary of Commerce. That office has had an interim leader since Woody Thrasher stepped down in June amid controversy about the RISE flood recovery program.

Gaunch chaired the Senate Government Organization committee and was Vice Chair on the Finance, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Pensions committees.

Both Upson and Gaunch were defeated in the November midterm election by Democrats. They will assume their new roles in January.

**Editor’s Note: The headline and story were edited to clarify Gaunch and Upson as “outgoing” state lawmakers. The story incorrectly stated they were “former” state lawmakers.