Workman loves 'work of the court'

By Chris Dickerson | Feb 8, 2008


CHARLESTON – Margaret Workman has a few reasons for wanting her old job back.

Workman, who filed to run for one of two state Supreme Court seats in this year's election, said she wants to restore the people's respect in the Court.

"People's respect for the court is going down," she said in a recent interview. "I can be a force to bring that back. I believe Supreme Court justices' jobs is to disagree heatedly about issues.

"When I was a justice, I served with 13 different justices. There was instability. We had heated discussions, but it was a high level of discourse."

But there's more to her desire to obtain one of the five seats again.

"Another reason is that I love the work of the court," Workman said. "I was transitioning into another phase of my life. Now, I'm transitioning into another phase."

Workman, a Kanawha County Democrat, became the first woman elected to statewide office in West Virginia when she won her 1988 Supreme Court race. She stepped down in 1999, and later ran unsuccessfully for Congress and for the state Senate.

She said she likes to let her record speak for itself.

"You don't have to guess about me," she said. "I have a lengthy record of straight-on following the law. Everybody gets their day in court. I read the briefs, I look at the law, I hear the arguments before making a decision.

"Also, I think some of the hallmarks of my services were fairness and integrity."

Workman said she didn't want to comment on any specific instances, but much attention has been placed recently on Chief Justice Spike Maynard's friendship with Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

"There are a lot of things out there that have damaged the reputation of the court," she said. It's very important that the court operate on a high level to have the respect of the people."

Workman said she has a broad base of support in her candidacy.

"I have supporters of all different segments of society," she said. "I have plaintiff and defense lawyers, people in business, people in the art community. I think people want to see something different on the court."

Workman said she'd like to make the court more responsive to children and family issues.

She also knows the challenge of a statewide race.

"I'm not really running against one specific candidate," Workman said. "I'm running for one of the positions."

Workman said she thinks her name recognition and being a female will help her run, as well as the issues she wants to focus on.

"Those are issues people care about," she said.

But, she knows she has to raise funds.

"And that's an ugly thing to do," she said. "Politics and being successful involves raising money, but it also involves getting the message out in other ways."

She said she has been doing a lot of traveling around the state and doing a lot of telephone work.

"It's still early, but I think all of the candidates are working hard," she said. "I'm looking forward to this campaign."

In addition to Workman and Maynard, other Democrats in the race for the two seats are Bob Bastress, a West Virginia University law professor, and Menis Ketchum, a Huntington attorney. Charleston attorney Beth Walker is the lone Republican in the race.

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