WHEELING - Ohio County Commissioner David Sims will be the Northern Panhandle's next circuit court judge.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Thursday announced his appointment of Sims as circuit judge for the 1st Judicial Circuit serving Hancock, Brooke and Ohio counties. Sims will succeed Judge Arthur M. Recht, who retired at the end of January. The unexpired term ends at the end of 2014.
Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler-Goodwin, said it was unclear when Sims would be sworn in as judge.
"We still have a few T's to cross," she said.
"I'm honored Gov. Tomblin has appointed me to this position," Sims said in a statement released by the governor's office. "I have a great respect for the law and our court system, and am looking forward to serving the people of the Northern Panhandle."
Sims could not be reached for additional comment Thursday.
Eight candidates applied for the 1st Circuit Court judge's job: Sims, Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith, former U.S. Attorney Betsy Steinfeld-Jividen, federal public defender Brendan S. Leary, Family Court Judge William Sinclair, and lawyers William Cipriani, William Galloway and Thomas C. McCarthy Jr.
"I'm pleased David has accepted this opportunity to serve as circuit judge," Tomblin said. "With his leadership experience and legal expertise, I believe David will serve the people of Hancock, Brooke and Ohio counties well as circuit judge."
Sims, a Democrat, will have to leave his commission seat, and also has been seeking re-election. He was to face Republican Patty Levenson in November.
Rocky Fitzsimmons, co-chairman of the Ohio County Democratic Party, said the two remaining commissioners - Tim McCormick and Randy Wharton - will appoint a replacement commissioner to serve out the remainder of Sims' term. After this, the Ohio County Democratic Executive Committee will select a candidate to replace him on the ballot, and it can be the same or a different person than the one selected to be interim commissioner.
"I think this is an excellent selection by the governor," Fitzsimmons said. "He will do a great job as judge, and serve the people of the 1st Circuit well."
Commissioner Randy Wharton said the commission will announce "something more formal" regarding their plans to replace Sims when they meet Tuesday. Sims serves as president of the Ohio County Development Authority, which meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the regular meeting of commissioners at 6 p.m.