CHARLESTON -- House Judiciary Chairwoman Carrie Webster might soon have a new title: Kanawha Circuit judge.
Webster, a Moorefield native, is a candidate for Judge Irene C. Berger's seat after she heads to the federal bench.
The other six candidates include Charleston attorneys Joanna Tabit, Kathy Brown, Katherine Louise Dooley and David Cecil; Phyllis Carter, an administrative law judge with the state Human Rights Commission; and West Virginia State Court of Claims Judge John G. Hackney Jr.
A 1997 graduate of West Virginia University's College of Law, Webster was the recipient of the Public Interest Advocate Legal Fellowship in 1998 and part of the Moot Court National Team. She graduated as a member of the Order of the Barristers, a national honorary organization.
Webster said she always had an interest in law from the time she was young and looked up to her grandfather, Ralph J. Bean Sr.
"My grandfather was a big community person and was always involved with public services," Webster said. "I always knew I wanted to serve the public in some capacity, I wanted to help people."
Webster said she always instinctively wanted to make sure everyone had a voice.
"I've spent time with programs involved with low-income families and children, and when you work with these groups, you really start to appreciate what you have," Webster said. "I grew up with so much more than most, and it's easy to isolate yourself from those worse off, but it's through community service, church and other forms of public services that force you out of your cocoon and out into the world."
Webster said when Berger was rumored for the federal bench, people asked her if she was considering the circuit judge seat that would be vacant.
"People told me to go for it now and not to wait," she said. "Judge Berger is an extremely hard working judge and an extraordinary person. Whichever one of us is chose will have big shoes to fill."
Webster is also recognized for her leadership and her passion for advocacy on behalf of consumers, workers, women and children.
"I can use my skills and experiences to do the job," she said. "Judgeship is the natural progression for me. I'm an extremely fair person and a hard worker and I thrive on making sure everyone has their say. You have to be fair and professional and I can do both."
Webster has received numerous awards, including the NAACP Image Award -- Charleston Chapter in 2008, Si Galperin Voice of Democracy Award in 2008, the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church "Extraordinary Woman of the Valley Award" in 2007, West Virginia Free Champions of Choice Award in 2006, West Virginia Minority Business Center Special Recognition Award in 2005, the West Virginia Troopers Association Supporter Award in 2002 and many others.