WHEELING - West Virginia Delegate Ryan Ferns said Thursday that he will seek re-election to his 3rd District House seat in November after an April drunk driving conviction cast doubt on his status in the race.
Just days after the 29-year-old Ohio County Democrat pleaded guilty to the DUI charge, he announced he would resign his seat in the Legislature. Despite that announcement, he received more than 2,000 votes in the May 8 primary. Later that week he said he would serve out the remainder of his term, but he wasn't sure whether he would remain on the general election ballot.
"I would like to thank everyone in Ohio County and all over West Virginia for the tremendous outpouring of support, and I look forward to an election focused on the issues that are critical to improving the great state of West Virginia," Ferns said Thursday.
Ferns is serving his first term, which ends Dec. 31, representing the 3rd District.
On April 20, Wheeling police stopped Ferns' vehicle after he was seen driving in the wrong lane of traffic on National Road in the Edgwood area. His blood-alcohol content reportedly was 0.229 percent - nearly three times the 0.08 percent legal limit for driving. He pleaded guilty April 26 before Magistrate Patricia Murphy, who fined Ferns $500 and ordered him to pay court costs.
West Virginia law also called for a 45-day driver's license suspension and installation of a "test-and-lock" device on Ferns' vehicle for nine months.
It was later revealed that in 2003, Ferns was arrested for DUI and underage consumption following an accident at Bethany College - a charge that was dismissed after he completed a one-year, pretrial diversion program.
Ferns' decision not to resign his seat received support from both sides of the aisle, as Elgine McArdle, chairwoman of the Ohio County Republican Party - and Ferns' neighbor - said the votes he received in the primary were indicative of his party's desire to keep him in office.
Along with Ferns, current candidates for the 3rd Delegate District in November's election are Democrat Shawn Fluharty and Republicans Erikka Storch and Larry Tighe. Storch currently holds the county's second seat in the district.
Staff Writers Joselyn King and Tyler Reynard contributed to this report.