State Senate President Jeff Kessler, D- Marshall, announced the remainder of his leadership team Friday, adding that he was prepared to push forward with a positive agenda for West Virginia.
Kessler, who because Senate president this month after serving as acting president for about a year, left much of the same leadership intact. The announcement included a few changes to leadership roles, and recent leadership challenger Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kawawha, was absent the list.
"When you run against me and try to take me out of my position, I don't reward you with chairmanships," Kessler said. "I need folks on my team that are going to be supportive of the team. Obviously both (McCabe) and Sen. (Mike) Green had been working to undermine my leadership team for the past several months."
Kessler noted that both Senators had their strengths and talents. Green had been the chairman of Energy, Industry and Mining committee, but made his bid for Senate president numerous times this past year. He ultimately did not challenge Kessler in the end, but Kessler said Green had previously indicated he was not pleased with leadership or his own position.
Kessler cited the success of Douglas Facemire, D-Braxton, as co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Marcellus Shale as reasons for placing him at the top of the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee.
"We're just going to continue to advance a positive agenda and improve our education system, improve our workforce development efforts, increase energy opportunities in the state and try to create jobs and wealth for the people of the state," Kessler said. "There are some who've been detractors of mine in the past, but I'm not so sure that if I could find the cure for cancer some of the folks wouldn't be supportive of my efforts."
Not all of Kessler's detractors were left off the list. Kessler made Sen. Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, chairman of the agriculture committee. Kessler cited reports of Helmick's interest in one day running for Commissioner of Agriculture.
Included in the leadership selection was Art Kirkendoll, D-Logan, who recently took the seat formerly held by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. He will be the vice-chairman of the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee.
"Senator Kirkendoll is a longtime advocate for the people of Logan County and southern West Virginia," Kessler said in a statement. "His experience in local and state government, as well as his knowledge of the coal industry and its importance to the state's economy and workforce, makes him an excellent choice to serve on these committees."
According to the release, Kirkendoll was "pleasantly surprised by the appointment."
"As a freshman Senator from an energy producing county, I am honored to receive these appointments," Kirkendoll said. "President Kessler's confidence in me shows his commitment to Southern West Virginia and his efforts to ensure that West Virginia is equally represented. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance the Senate's common agenda for the people of this great State."
According to a release from Kessler, the following people were appointed to leadership positions:
Appointed as chairmen are senators Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, of Agriculture; Joseph Minard, D-Harrison, of Banking & Insurance; Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel, of Confirmations; Richard Browning, D-Wyoming, of Economic Development; Douglas Facemire, D-Braxton, of Energy, Industry & Mining; Ronald Miller, D-Greenbrier, of Enrolled Bills; Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio, of Interstate Cooperation; Jack Yost, D-Brooke, of Labor; Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, of Military; William Laird, D-Fayette, of Natural Resources; Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, of Pensions; and Robert Beach, D-Monongalia, of Transportation & Infrastructure.
Additionally, appointed as vice-chairmen are Senators Bob Williams, D-Taylor, of Agriculture; Mark Wills, D-Mercer, of Banking & Insurance; Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, of Confirmations; Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio, of Economic Development; Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, of Education; Art Kirkendoll, D-Logan, Energy, Industry & Mining; Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, of Enrolled Bills; Douglas Facemire, D-Braxton, of Finance; Ronald Miller, D-Greenbrier, of Government Organization; William Laird, D-Fayette, of Health & Human Resources; Gregory Tucker, D-Nicholas, of Interstate Cooperation; Mark Wills, D-Mercer, of Judiciary; Ronald Miller, D-Greenbrier, of Labor; Jack Yost, D-Brooke, of Military; John Pat Fanning, D-McDowell, of Natural Resources; Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel, of Pensions; and Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio, of Transportation & Infrastructure.
Earlier this week, Kessler announced he was keeping his leadership team and major committee chairs intact.
Joe Minard, D-Harrison, will remain president pro tempore. John Unger, D-Berkeley, will majority leader and Richard Browning, D-Wyoming, majority whip.
Committee chairs previously announced are Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, Judiciary; Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, Finance; Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, Government Organization; Ron Stollings, D-Boone, Health and Human Resources; and Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, Education.