Sen. Larry Edgell will serve as president pro tempore of the West Virginia Senate for the 81st Legislature.
Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, named Edgell, D-Wetzel, to the post Monday when Kessler announced his leadership team for the 2013-14 legislative term. Edgell, 66 - a retired Wetzel County educator - has served 14 years in the Senate.
The role of president pro tempore in the Senate typically goes to the longest-serving member, but Edgell actually ranks third in seniority in the Senate. The longest-serving member is Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, who did not support Kessler in his bid to become Senate president. Second in terms of seniority is Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, who already serves as education chairman and is heavily involved with national legislative organizations.
As president pro tempore of the Senate, Edgell will fill in for Kessler when Kessler can't be at the podium. The new position also gives Edgell a seat on the Senate Rules Committee.
The job is similar to that now held by Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, who last week was named president pro tempore in the House of Delegates by Speaker Richard Thompson, D-Wayne.
Edgell noted the Northern Panhandle is well represented in the legislative leadership, but he doesn't believe other areas of the state have been slighted.
In the Senate, Kessler's leadership team consists of John Unger, D-Berkeley, as majority leader; Bill Laird, D-Fayette, as majority whip; Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, as judiciary chairman; Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, as finance chairman; Plymale, as education chairman; Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, as government organization chairman; and Ron Stollings, D-Boone, as health and human resources chairman.
"Jeff and I have sat down and talked about the positions, and we tried to stretch them out around the state," Edgell said. "Laird is from the south, and Ron Miller (D-Greenbrier) will be chairing at least one committee."
It's is a "big bonus" for the Northern Panhandle having people in legislative leadership positions, he continued. Edgell noted Kessler - as Senate president and lieutenant governor in West Virginia - "is number 2 in the state, and I'm number 2 behind him in the Senate."