NEW CUMBERLAND-Hancock County voters chose a combination of experience and newness in the race for Hancock County magistrate on Tuesday.
Two of the three Democratic incumbents, with 29 years' experience between them, were re-elected to another four-year term in office. Michael W. Powell and Scott Hicks will be joined by the Republican challenger, Hancock County Sheriff Mike White, who was the second-highest vote-getter of the night.
The top three vote-getters among the four candidates will fill the magistrate spots.
The unofficial results, in descending order, are:
* Hicks-7,107 votes;
* White-6,524 votes;
* Powell-6,181 votes; and
* Betty J. Bauer-5,158 votes.
White said he appreciated the voters and the other candidates in the race. "It was a good, clean campaign," he said.
Before he assumes office, White will undergo training directed by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. "I'm really looking forward to it. It'll be something new," he said.
Magistrates in West Virginia are similar to municipal court judges in Ohio. They preside over a largely misdemeanor docket for the unincorporated parts of the county. Felony cases that start in magistrate court usually are bound over to Hancock County Circuit Court.
Presiding Magistrate Powell, 66, of Weirton, has served as magistrate for 14 years. Previously, he worked for 22 years on the Weirton Police Department, 19 of those years as detective.
At 22 years, Bauer, 77, of Weirton, is the longest-serving magistrate in Hancock County. Previously, she worked as court clerk for the city of Weirton.
Hicks, 65, of Weirton, in his 15th year as magistrate, is also presiding judge for the Northern Panhandle Adult Treatment Court, which includes the mental health court, the drug court and the veteran's treatment court. All three are diversionary programs for qualifying defendants.
The only statutory requirements to run for county magistrate in West Virginia are a high school diploma, residency in the county and a clean criminal record-i.e., no felonies and no misdemeanors of moral turpitude. A law degree is not required.
White, 57, of Weirton, said he ran for magistrate because he believes the office needs some new blood. In his campaign, he pointed to his experience in law enforcement over a career spanning 39 years.