Editor's Note: In the coming weeks, The West Virginia Record will profile candidates in this year's election for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and for state Attorney General.
CHARLESTON – Tish Chafin says her experience and her work ethic are the biggest reasons she should be elected to the state Supreme Court.
Chafin is the managing partner of the H. Truman Chafin Law firm in Williamson with her husband, state Senator Truman Chafin. She has worked at the firm since graduating from the West Virginia University College of Law.
"I know I'm qualified," Chafin, a Democrat, said. "I have a broad base of experience in practicing law. Being a circuit judge is not a pre-requisite for being on the Supreme Court. Experience is most important. You need that, and I'm the one who has that."
She said her pitch to potential voters is her work.
"They can see I'm out there working hard," Chafin said. "I'm committed to working hard and bringing that work ethic to the Supreme Court. The collegial atmosphere that is there now will continue. People who meet me know that I have a great rapport with people, and I enjoy campaigning.
"I have a working relationship with the court from my tenure with the State Bar. I've never been in a work situation where I haven't been able to get along with everybody. I just want to get in there and work together for the people of West Virginia. As a member of the Court, you can disagree. You just have to agree to disagree. Infighting is not productive, and it's not a way to dispense justice."
Chafin is running for one of two seats. One of the seats currently is held by Justice Robin Jean Davis, who is seeking re-election. The other is being vacated by retiring Justice Thomas McHugh.
"I don't consider myself running against anybody," she said. "I'm running for one of two seats.
"Everyone wants a fair court. They want five Supreme Court justices who are going to listen to their case fairly and have laws applied properly to each case.
"I think most people in West Virginia are not too far to the left, not too far to the right. They're right in the middle. I think our laws reflect that, and I think that's where you need to be when dispensing justice."
Chafin is proud of what she calls "broad-based support" from the business community, the defense bar and the plaintiff's bar. She said she has strong support all around the state.
"I've been to the eastern Panhandle four times since announcing my intentions to run," she said. "And I've been to the northern panhandle twice. I graduated from Brooke High School, so that is going home for me."
During her term as president of the West Virginia State Bar, Chafin visited all 55 counties. She said she has talked to many people in her travels around the state.
"There's one thing I've learned that people in general people are happy with lawyers and the court system," she said. "Contrary to most newspaper articles, most people are complimentary of the law system. They know their judges and their local lawyers.
"Sure, there's always room for improvement. But each community seems to have respect for local judges and local attorneys."
In addition to 15 years of practicing law, Chafin has volunteered on various boards, such as the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Education Alliance and the West Virginia Children's Home Society. She is a Marshall University Board of Governors member and an Elder of First Presbyterian Church of Charleston. As immediate past President of the State Bar, Chafin served on the Board of Governors and as an Ex Officio member of the state's Judicial Advisory Commission.
"As you can see, there is lots of public service in my background," she said. "And there is no greater public service than running for public office."
Public office is something her husband knows a lot about. He has served in the state Senate for 30 years.
"Truman is very supportive of my campaign," Chafin said. "I think he enjoys campaigning for me more than for himself. He's very proud, and it is fun to campaign together. He's a great dad. He really steps up and takes care of the family when I'm campaigning. He's been my biggest fan."
Chafin received her undergraduate degree from Marshall University. She is licensed to practice in both West Virginia and Kentucky, and she has also been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, Fourth Circuit of the United States Federal Court and the Southern District of West Virginia. The Chafins have three daughters.
Chafin is one of six Democratic candidates seeking two spots in this spring's primary. Joining her are Davis, circuit judges J.D. Beane and Jim Rowe, current Supreme Court law clerk Louis Palmer and New Martinsville attorney H. John "Buck" Rogers.
Circuit Judge John Yoder and current state Supreme Court law clerk Allen Loughry are the Republicans running.
The primary election is May 8, and the general election is Nov. 6.