WELLSBURG - West Virginia Delegate Tim Ennis said he will resign his position to serve as the new Brooke County commissioner, replacing the late Bernie Kazienko.
There was tension Tuesday afternoon in the commission's meeting room as Commissioner Norma Tarr voted against fellow Commissioner Marty Bartz' recommendation of Kirk Kazienko, son of the late commissioner. The seat became vacant with the elder Kazienko's death on Dec. 5.
Tarr then recommended Ennis, D-Brooke, who is in his ninth term as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. She said she chose him for his experience in securing state funds for improvements to infrastructure and economic development.
"All I'm looking for is what's best for Brooke County. By appointing Tim, I had the future of Brooke County in mind. Nine months is a long time for us and we do need to get some things accomplished," Tarr said.
Bartz approved Tarr's choice, but said he had preferred to fill the seat with someone who did not intend to run for the office in this year's primary and general elections.
Ennis then confirmed he plans to run for the commission seat in the upcoming elections this year. He said early next week, he will submit his resignation from the seat in the House. Ennis said to fill his seat there, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will choose one of three individuals to be nominated by the Democratic Executive Committee.
Ennis thanked the commissioners for their support and expressed regret that he will step into the seat following Kazienko's death.
"Bernie was the heart and soul of Brooke County in my opinion. None of us wanted to be here today," Ennis said, speaking of the circumstances that led to his appointment.
State law dictates the commission fill the position within 30 days of its vacancy until voters can select someone through the next regular election. The winner will serve the remaining five years of the late Kazienko's six-year term.
Bartz stressed he believes Ennis is a "wonderful" choice for commissioner but was concerned that by appointing him, he and Tarr would appear to be favoring him over other candidates in the upcoming elections.
Bartz said Ennis and Kirk Kazienko were among 17 applicants for the seat and he interviewed all except four because those residents lived outside the magisterial district the elder Kazienko represented.
In addition to Ennis and Kirk Kazienko, letters of application were received from Bill Schwertfeger and Steven Snyder, both of Follansbee; and the following Wellsburg area residents: Howard Armstrong, Mark Fedak, Anthony Filberto, Burton Jennings, Heidi Kirchner, Phillip Mazzella, Ron Michaux, Norm Schwertfeger, K.D. Shaffer, Arthur Sullivan, Lloyd VanHorn and Linda Viderman. Brooke County Sheriff Richard Ferguson initially applied for the position, but later withdrew his application.