CHARLESTON – Two candidates have filed paperwork to become the next Kanawha Circuit Judge.
Dan Greear and Tera Salango both have filed pre-candidacy papers for the seat, which became vacant last month when Judge Jim Stucky resigned for health reasons. Because of the timing of Stucky’s resignation, the non-partisan election will be on the November general election ballot.
Both Greear and Salango, the wife of Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango and also an attorney at the Charleston-based Preston & Salango law firm, also will seek an appointment from Gov. Jim Justice to serve temporarily until the election.
“Judge Stucky is a tremendous judge and a great person whom I have admired throughout my career as a lawyer,” Greear said. “While it is difficult to lose someone from the bench with his experience and broad respect, it would be the greatest thrill of my legal career to serve the people of Kanawha County as his replacement.
“The 13th Circuit Court is one of the busiest courts in the state, and I believe the Governor will want to make sure the judges on the circuit, as well as citizens served by the court, have all the support and help they need. I believe I can be an asset to the court during this transition time and my experience as a lawyer and public servant can be of great use.”
A lifelong resident of Kanawha County, Greear served one-term as a Republican member of the House of Delegates representing Kanawha County in 1995-96, and was the chief counsel for the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office from 2013-2014. Greear became the House of Delegates Chief of Staff in early 2015. He ran for a seat on the circuit court in 2010, but lost to Judge Carrie Webster.
“Kanawha County has been an amazing place to live and raise my family,” Greear said. “It is my humble hope to give back to the county and its citizens – my neighbors – by serving as its next judge and helping to ensure our streets are safe, our laws are followed, and everyone has equal access to justice.”
Salango said she always has thought becoming a judge is where her career would lead her.
"When I was 16, my brother was murdered," she said. "That is what put the drive in me to become a prosecutor. I started as a young lawyer at Spilman Thomas & Battle. Then, I left there to go to the Kanawha County Prosecutor's Office.
"I loved every minute of my job and really enjoyed serving the people of Kanawha County. It's my passion, working anything from juvenile case to neglect cases to my criminal docket. And as a judge, I will take that to the next level."
Salango left the prosecutor's office in 2016 to join her husband's firm.
"I really wanted to get more civil litigation experience because I knew I wanted to become a judge," she said. "I think my background and my experience is unique, and I've always thought I would be a fair judge. This opportunity presented itself, so I decided to run."
Stucky, who had served as a judge since 1997, hadn’t heard cases since early March because of his health. He submitted his resignation letter April 17 to Gov. Jim Justice. He seeks disability retirement. Senior Status Judge David Pancake now is hearing Stucky's cases.
The notice from the state Judicial Vacancy Advisory Council seeking temporary replacements for Stucky was issued April 30, and applications for the temporary seat will be due to the governor’s office by June 4. Interviews will take place June 21, according to JVAC Chairwoman Debra Scudiere, an attorney at Kay Casto & Chaney in Morgantown. Then, the JVAC will provide a list of recommendations to Justice, who then will make an appointment to hold the seat until the November election.
The filing period for a spot on the November ballot will open in August.