CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sally Shepherd, a former conservation officer and unsuccessful candidate for state agriculture commissioner, wants a circuit judge to order her name be placed on the ballot for Kanawha County Commission.
Shepherd filed to run for the office in January, but inadvertently mailed her paperwork to the office of Secretary of State Natalie Tennant instead of Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick. Under state law, candidates for statewide office file with the secretary of state, while candidates for county office must file with the county clerk.
By the time Shepherd's candidacy papers were returned to her, it was too late to file in the correct office. Shepherd hand-delivered a letter to McCormick last week asking to be placed on the ballot anyway, but was turned down.
On Friday, Shepherd filed a petition in Kanawha County Circuit Court asking that McCormick be ordered to put her name on the ballot for the May primary election.
In the three-page petition, Shepherd argues that her paperwork was "in substantial compliance with all statutory requirements" under state law. She also said judges in Mingo and McDowell counties allowed candidates on the ballot who had made minor mistakes in filing.
Shepherd said she is represented in the lawsuit by Charleston lawyer John Kennedy Bailey. Her husband, Walton "Tony" Shepherd, filed the suit, but Shepherd said that was to get it into the court system as quickly as possible.
In McDowell County, a candidate was allowed on the ballot in 2008 despite not having papers properly notarized, the attorney argued. A candidate in Mingo County was allowed on the current ballot even though he didn't pay his full filing fee.
Shepherd, who lives in Sissonville, said she originally intended to drive her candidacy papers to Charleston, but was held up by a snowstorm. Had she driven, she said she would have figured out that she wasn't supposed to file at the Secretary of State's Office at the state Capitol Complex and would have gone to the County Clerk's Office in downtown Charleston instead.
Shepherd is a Democrat. Clint Casto is currently the only Democrat on the County Commission ballot.
Longtime County Commissioner Hoppy Shores, a Republican, will face George Anthony Metz Jr. in the primary election.
Shepherd's petition originally was assigned to Kanawha Circuit Judge James Stucky, who recused himself on Friday. It will be up to Chief Circuit Judge Charlie King to reassign the case.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.