CHARLESTON — Putnam County Assistant Prosecutor Kris Raynes's lifelong dream has been to serve on the state Supreme Court.
Now Raynes might achieve that dream as she runs in Division 2 for retiring Justice Margaret Workman's seat.
"This was the perfect opportunity," Raynes said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "I can use my skill set as a prosecutor to help the people of West Virginia."
TThere is no one on the court who was a career prosecutor, according to Raynes.
"The court has gone through some major transitions lately, and the justices really need accountability," Raynes said. "I would like to return accountability to the court."
Raynes said ethics are also extremely important to her, and she takes ethical concerns to heart.
"I think the court needs oversight," Raynes said. "Oversight is a good way that we're moving toward and I think bringing my skill set to the court would help with that."
Raynes said she is a huge advocate for the separation of powers.
"As a justice, you are an interpreter of the law," Raynes said. "You don't create the law. You are essentially an umpire—you're not there to change the laws."
Raynes, a native of Putnam County, went to Buffalo-Putnam High School, where she graduated in 1992. She went to Marshall University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and then went to the University of Akron School of Law to earn her law degree.
Raynes worked at the Summit County Prosecutor's Office in Akron for several years before moving back to Putnam County, where she worked as a special assistant U.S. attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. She started in her current position as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia in 2008.
Raynes said she specializes in child sex abuse cases, but she handles felony cases ranging from controlled substances offenses to first-degree murder cases.
Raynes said she found it fitting that she was applying for Workman's seat on the bench.
"I was at Justice Workman's inauguration when I was in high school," Raynes said. "I just kind of thought it was interesting that I could fill her shoes when I was admiring her as a young girl."
Raynes is running for the Division 2 seat, which is occupied by Workman. Others running for that seat are Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit, Kanawha Family Court Judge Jim Douglas and former legislator and Supreme Court candidate Bill Wooton.
For the Division 1 seat, incumbent Justice Tim Armstead is being challenged by former Justice Richard Neely and northern panhandle Circuit Judge David Hummel. Justice John Hutchison is seeking to retain his Division 3 seat, but he's being challenged by Jackson Circuit Judge Lora Dyer and Charleston attorney Bill Schwartz.
All three of the Supreme Court races are non-partisan. The Division 1 and 2 races are for regular 12-year terms on the Supreme Court. The Division 3 race is to fill the seat formerly held by Allen Loughry. Gov. Jim Justice appointed Hutchison to fill that seat in December 2018. The term for the Division 3 seat will end in 2024
In 2018, Tabit finished third in a special election for two seats on the Supreme Court left by the retirements of Robin Jean Davis and Menis Ketchum. Armstead and Justice Evan Jenkins, both of whom had been appointed by Justice to temporarily fill those seats, won those elections. Douglas, Wooton and Schwartz all ran in the 2018 election as well.
The non-partisan court election is part of West Virginia's primary election, which is May 12.