W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice appoints Charles Clements to state Senate seat

NEW MARTINSVILLE — New  Martinsville resident Charles Clements was appointed Saturday by Governor Jim Justice to fill the 2nd District State Senate seat vacated by Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt.

“I’m very happy. I’ve always had great respect for the Senate and their interaction with each other across party lines and how they have shared great respect for one another,” Clements said Saturday after receiving the news.

Clements, 73, served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from the 5th District from 1995-1998 representing Wetzel County, ran for the state Senate and lost, then lost a bid for the House in 2000 to Democrat Dave Pethtel.

Clements ran unsuccessfully last year for the Wetzel County Commission, losing in the general election to Democrat Lisa Heasley. He served as a member of the Governor’s transition policy committee on transportation.

Clements served in the U.S. Army and was owner of Clements Oil Company for 34 years. Since 2004 he has operated H&R Block in New Martinsville.

Clements said the governor called him personally on Saturday to give him the good news.

“I had been told to expect a phone call, but I didn’t know what he would say,” he said. “I’m surprised and humbled by the news. Don’t know what to say. West Virginia has a lot of challenges ahead — no question about that. We’re are a resilient people who can face all our problems with confidence.”

The 2nd Distinct is among the geographically largest in the state. The nine-county district includes part of Monongalia County, part of Marshall County, part of Marion County, part of Gilmer County, Tyler County, Doddridge County, Ritchie County and Calhoun County.

“Charles Clements has always been committed to serving the people our great state and I am glad he will be able continue working to improve our state in the West Virginia Senate,” Justice said in a press release issued Saturday. “Charles understands that we need to seriously upgrade our infrastructure, and I look forward to working with him to fix our roads and bridges and to grow jobs throughout West Virginia. I know he will work hard for his constituents and help solve the state’s budget crisis.”

Clements will take office prior to the reconvening of the 2017 Legislature on Feb. 8, according to Conrad Lucas, state Republican Party chairman. The appointment will be for the remainder of the term ending with the certification of the 2018 general election, he said.

The 2nd Senatorial Committee of the West Virginia Republican forwarded three nominees last week to Justice to succeed Leonhardt of Monongalia County, who won the election in 2016 for commissioner of agriculture and resigned recently upon taking the office. The nominees were Clements, Ginger Nalley of Tyler County and Kent Pauley of Monongalia County.

The new senator has been active in Wetzel County for decades. Clements served as a member of the New Martinsville Parks and Recreation Commission and as a past president of the New Martinsville Rotary Club. He is a longtime member of New Martinsville United Methodist Church and has served 41 years as a West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Football official.

Clements is married to Genie and they have two children and four grandchildren.

News and Sentinel reporter Jess Mancini contributed to this story.

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