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Two magistrate races contested in Hancock County

NEW CUMBERLAND — Hancock County voters will have choices to make for two contested magistrate races in the county.

On the Division 2 ballot, current Hancock County Sheriff Ralph A. Fletcher, of Weirton, will face Steve Svokas of Weirton and David L. Robinson of New Cumberland.

In Division 3, incumbent Mike White of Weirton, is being challenged by Jeremy R. Pykosz of Weirton.

Incumbent Scott Hicks is running unopposed for the Division 1 magistrate seat.

Svokas, 42, is a 1995 graduate of Weir High School and 1999 graduate from West Liberty University in criminal justice.

Appointed to the West Virginia Parole Board in 2006 by former Gov. Joe Manchin, re-appointed again by former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, then again by sitting Gov. Jim Justice, Svokas said he is qualified for the position because with the parole board he has conducted thousands of judicial hearings and interviews. He also served an internship with The United States Probation Office in Wheeling.

“If you review my educational background and experience it is evident that I have a passion to work within the judicial system,” he said. “Being the next Hancock County magistrate will be a perfect fit for me.

“My judicial experience for over 11 years makes me the most qualified candidate for this position. I offer to the Hancock County voters a candidate with educational background, a superb work ethic and most of all I will be fair and considerate of anyone that comes before me as the Hancock County Magistrate judge.”

Svokas and his wife, Jaime Svokas, have one daughter, Gianna Svokas.

No response was received from Fletcher, and attempts to contact Robinson were not successful.

Pykosz, 42, is a 1996 graduate of Weir High School, 2000 graduate of West Virginia University and 2004 graduate of New England School of Law. He served as assistant public defender in Lake County, Fla. from January 2006 to February 2011 and is currently employed at Orrick Analytics. His current community activities include The Pykosz Foundation for Autism, a local non-profit organization which assists individuals with autism in Hancock and Brooke counties.

Working 15 years as an attorney with courtroom experience, Pykosz said he is qualified for the position because he has assisted the less fortunate defendants with their right to a fair trial. He also noted as an attorney he is educated in the law, fair, and impartial with a strong background in court proceedings. The experiences and education of such will help him to be fair and uphold the laws of the community, he said.

Pykosz said he has been working toward a judiciary position since deciding to pursue law school.

“I want to take my years of education and experience in the judicial system to provide fair and just results for my community,” he said. “I have worked in the courtroom for over five years and have seen, first hand, day-to-day, how the legal system affects individuals that do not have the money to represent themselves. I would like to be elected to this position to allow my years in the legal system to guide myself to fair and just results for my community.”

Additionally, Pykosz noted he is trained in the law, having graduated from New England School of Law in 2004 and passed the Bar Exam in Florida in 2005. He said many of the candidates for the magistrate positions are not trained in the law.

Pykosz and his wife, Jamie Kisner Pykosz, have two sons, Ayden and Karson.

No response was received from White.

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