Lorenzetti, 071216 WVAGO, AGO 071216

Docket Nº:AGO 071216
Case Date:July 12, 2016
Court:West Virginia
 
FREE EXCERPT
The Honorable Ralph A. Lorenzetti Jr.
AGO 071216
No. 071216
West Virginia Attorney General Opinions
State of West Virginia Office of the Attorney General
July 12, 2016
         The Honorable Ralph A. Lorenzetti Jr.          Prosecuting Attorney          Jefferson County          P.O. Box 729          Charles Town, WV 25414          Dear Prosecutor Lorenzetti:          You have asked for an Opinion of the Attorney General about several requirements and procedures pertinent to the appointment of a new county commissioner after one has resigned. This Opinion is being issued pursuant to West Virginia Code § 5-3-2, which provides that the Attorney General "may consult with and advise the several prosecuting attorneys in matters relating to the official duties of their office." To the extent this Opinion relies on facts, it is based solely on the factual assertions set forth in your correspondence with the Office of Attorney General. The questions you asked in the letter have been narrowed by further discussions with your office.          In your letter, you explain that a member of the five-member Jefferson County Commission has resigned. The resignation was tendered late in the day on June 29, 2016, and was accepted by the remaining four Commissioners at a regular meeting of the Commission on June 30, 2016. The Commissioner who resigned was a Republican, and his seat was up for re­election in 2020.          Your letter raises a number of legal issues, which are addressed in turn below:
(1) Is there a legal prohibition against someone switching parties in order to be considered for appointment to the vacated seat on the Commission? If there is no such prohibition, is there a cutoff date after which a person may not switch parties for the purposes of the appointment?
(2) When is the effective date of the resigning Commissioner's resignation for purposes of starting the thirty-day clock for appointments by the Commission?
(3) Must the newly appointed Commissioner be from the same magisterial district as the resigning Commissioner?
(4) When will the newly appointed Commissioner's term end?
         Question One: Is there a legal prohibition against someone switching parties in order to be considered for appointment to the vacated seat on the Commission? If there is no such prohibition, is there a cutoff date after which a person may not switch parties for the purposes of the appointment?          The West Virginia Legislature has specifically addressed the issue of individuals switching political parties in order to be eligible for election to a seat on a county commission. West Virginia Code § 3-5-7 requires candidates running for election to submit a form, affirming information about their candidacy, to the clerk of the county commission. Information required on this form includes a statement that the candidate has not recently switched political parties:
For partisan elections, the name of the candidate's political party and a statement that the candidate: (A) Is a member of and affiliated with that political party as evidenced by the candidate's current registration as a voter affiliated with that party; and (B) has not been registered as a voter affiliated with any other political party for a period of sixty days before the date of filing the announcement.
W.Va. Code § 3-5-7. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld this statute, finding that it was "necessary to accomplish the...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP