WHEELING - Wheeling lawyer Robert "Rocky" Fitzsimmons will represent the 1st District in the West Virginia Senate.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Wednesday appointed Fitzsimmons to the seat left vacant by the resignation of Orphy Klempa to become an Ohio County commissioner. The unexpired four-year term extends through 2014.
"I'm honored, and I thank the governor for appointing me and having the confidence in me to serve the residents of West Virginia," Fitzsimmons said. "I will work as hard as possible to represent them and improve the quality of life throughout the state."
The 1st District encompasses Brooke, Hancock and Ohio counties as well as part of Marshall County. Twelve candidates submitted resumes seeking to fill the seat.
Tomblin selected Fitzsimmons, 33, from among three candidates recommended to him by a replacement committee last week.
Fitzsimmons holds a bachelor's degree in biochemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and obtained his law degree from Wake Forest University. He practices law with his family's Fitzsimmons Law Firm in Warwood. Fitzsimmons also serves as co-chairman of the county Democrat Party.
"But I probably will relinquish that position and focus on my duties in the Senate," he said. "It's time for somebody else to step in and use their resources."
Fitzsimmons described himself as a "political enthusiast" who has always followed the issues in Charleston. Still, he never saw himself seeking public office until now.
"I've worked for the party," he said. "I always enjoyed politics and followed it. I hadn't seen myself as a candidate - but this was the right time, and I had some unique talents to offer. It was the right time to do it."
Fitzsimmons said he could run for re-election to the full four-year term on the ballot in 2014.
"I'm not going to rule it out," he said. "At this time, I've spent not one second on the Senate floor, and I've not cast one vote. I want to make sure first I'm an effective legislator."
West Virginia law states no two senators can reside in the same county. The other 1st District senator is Jack Yost, a Democrat living in Brooke County.