MASON COUNTY — Voters will be choosing circuit court judges for the Fifth Judicial Circuit with those races decided on May 10 and therefore not moving on to the general election.
Running are: First Division, Richard Craig Tatterson, Gallipolis Ferry. Second Division, Lora Dyer, Ripley. Kennad “Kenny” Skeen II, Ripley. Third Division, Anita Harold Ashley, Spencer. Seth Harper, Spencer. Larry Whited, Grantsville.
The Point Pleasant Register advertised for and requested biographical information from those candidates running only in contested races – Tatterson is the only candidate running unopposed. Candidates also had the choice to answer “Why I ran for this office?” Below are the responses from those who participated, starting in the Second Division and listing candidates in alphabetical order.
Born in West Virginia, Lora Dyer is a coal miner’s daughter. Her father served in the Vietnam War. She graduated from Marshall University, studied in England, and then went on to law school at West Virginia University. Dyer is married and mother of a son. As an attorney, she has worked at the West Virginia State Supreme Court and worked as a law clerk to two circuit judges. She served as an assistant prosecutor, worked in a law firm, and currently is a lawyer for the State of West Virginia.
When answering the question “Why I ran for this office?” Dyer submitted the following: “After a great deal of prayer, Lora feels not only called, but that she has been blessed with the necessary skills to be able to serve as your circuit judge. She is a fair, unbiased and qualified candidate who has a true passion for serving the public. Sadly, our communities are under siege by drugs, and with that we are experiencing a disturbing increase of cases of child abuse and neglect. With the country’s highest unemployment rate and lowest workforce participation, we desperately need fresh ideas and dynamic, creative community leaders. It is time for everyone to step up to the challenges that threaten our children and West Virginia ideals. Lora is devoted to public service and is willing and prepared to tackle the challenging issues we face head-on, not only as judge in a court room, but as part of a team in the communities.”
Kennad “Kenny” Skeen, II, is the current Prosecuting Attorney of Jackson County and previously served as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of Jackson County, Mental Hygiene Commissioner, Fiduciary Commissioner with extensive experience throughout the Fifth Circuit for over 13 years. His community involvement includes being a lifelong resident of Jackson County, youth football, soccer, basketball and softball coach for over 13 years, served on the board of directors for WVU-P, regular volunteer at Project Graduation. His education includes graduating fifth in his class at Ripley High School in 1992, graduated Summa Cum Laude from West Virginia Wesleyan in 1996, graduated from WVU Law School in 2002.
Anita Harold Ashley is a lawyer in private practice for 35 years, a Family Law Master, 1986-1999, Jackson County Assistant Prosecutor, 2002, handled cases throughout West Virginia, argued before West Virginia Supreme Court. She has a A.B., English, summa cum laude, Glenville State College, 1978, Juris doctorate, WVU College of Law, 1981. Awards: US News and World Report’s The Best Lawyers in America©, 2012-2016, West Virginia’s Best Attorneys, State Journal, 2012-2016, National Top 10 Attorney ranking, National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, 2014. Memberships are American Bar Association, West Virginia State Bar, Spencer Rotary, Roane County College Scholarship Foundation, Inc., Roane County Chamber of, Commerce, St. John’s United Methodist Church.
Ashley said: “My decision to run for Circuit Judge was based on my strong belief that our local general jurisdiction trial court needs an experienced, common sense judge who is committed to applying the law and fairly and impartially performing the duties of office. This important job is an eight-year commitment and requires hard work, especially since the issues to be decided often affect some of the most vulnerable members of our community. With both of our current circuit judges retiring at the end of their terms and a new position added to cover the large work load, these are not positions which should be filled by lawyers with little experience or who those who are not committed to providing service in all four counties for the full term. I received encouragement from many lawyers and others who know my work ethic, my enthusiasm, and my commitment to the rule of law.”
Seth Harper is a graduate of Ripley High School, Marshall University, cum laude, with a degree in Accounting and the West Virginia University College of Law. He’s worked for large law firms and is currently owner of the Law Office of Seth Harper located in Ripley. He is a member of the Mason County Bar Association, a supporter of Mason County high school athletics and is also involved in the Parchment Valley Baptist Church snack packs program that provides weekend food to students in need.
Harper said: “I decided to run for judge to offer a new option to the voters of the Fifth Circuit and because I believe I am the most qualified person for the position of circuit judge. I have over 10 years legal experience, nine of which have been in private practice. I have experience in virtually all areas of the law: civil, criminal, transactional and appellate. I have trial experience in both jury and bench trials. I believe that all participants in the legal system, from police officers to lawyers, to witnesses and the general public deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. That is what I will strive to do as circuit judge.”
Larry Whited was born in Roane County and graduated from Parkersburg High School. He enlisted and served in the US Air Force, working for Monongahela Power Company as a representative in Calhoun and surrounding counties. He commenced his undergraduate studies at WVU and after receiving his undergraduate degree, completed his Juris Doctorate degree at the Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law. He’s a member of the NRA, Eureka Lodge #40, American Legion Post #21, and the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority Board of Directors.
Whited said: “The judiciary is not a place for on-the-job training. I have dedicated most of my adult life to community service. I am an US Air Force Veteran. I was not only a sole practitioner, but as a public defender, I tried many high profile cases within the fifth circuit. I was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Roane County and proved to be an effective prosecutor. I was appointed Judge of the Fourth Family Court Circuit by Governor Bob Wise. In 2002, I was elected as Family Court Judge serving the 4th Circuit. In 2008, I was re-elected for an eight year term as Family Court Judge and have served in that capacity until the present time. I have the experience and proven record as an effective, fair, and impartial circuit judge. It would be my honor and privilege to serve as one of the three judges of the fifth judicial circuit.”
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.