Art Kirkendoll, Jeff Kessler Sworn in to Senate Roles - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Art Kirkendoll, Jeff Kessler Sworn in to Senate Roles

CHARLESTON, West Virginia -

Not only did the West Virginia Senate get a new president for the first time since 1994, but Logan County also got a new Senator for the first time since 1980 during Monday night's Senate session.

The Senate convened just after 6 p.m. Monday, and several of Art Kirkendoll's family members were introduced, as well as members of the Logan County Commission just before Kirkendoll, a long-time Logan County Commissioner, took the oath of office.

Kirkendoll was nominated by the Logan County Democratic Committee Monday morning, along with Jim Blevins and Jerry Price, to fill the Senate vacancy created when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was sworn into office Sunday afternoon.

The Senate formalities included reading a letter from Tomblin resigning the Senate presidency, then reading another letter from Tomblin resigning as senator and one more from Tomblin appointing Kirkendoll to the 7th District for the remainder of Tomblin's Senate term.

Senate Clerk Darrell Holmes had called the Senate to order to start the session. He called on Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, as the Senate's longest-serving member to preside over the session. Chafin snapped pictures from the podium from his iPhone.

Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, nominated Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, for the position of Senate president after the position was declared vacant. Kessler had been acting as Senate President since Nov. 15 while Tomblin served as Acting Governor.

Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, nominated Minority Leader Mike Hall, R-Putnam, for the Senate presidency.

Senators cast voice votes for the position. Kessler received 28 votes, including one by phone from Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, who is on active duty in Afghanistan. Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, who had run his own campaign for Senate president, also cast his vote for Kessler.

"I'm confident we will go forward with a unified Senate," McCabe said before the Senate convened. "I'm confident Senator Kessler views the situation as I do."

Hall received five votes, and Sen. Karen Facemyer, R-Jackson, was absent.

Kessler was sworn in as Senate president by West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Margaret Workman.

"The time of acting is over," Kessler said, after noting the many changes the Senate has undergone since the death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va. "It's time to get to work."

The Senate adjourned until 11 a.m. Tuesday.