By DAVE McMILLION
Staff Writer, Martinsburg
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a Republican elected to the Berkeley County Commission cannot serve on the government body because he was elected from the magisterial district from which another magistrate had been elected.
The state constitution says only one commissioner can represent a given magisterial district, according to the Supreme Court.
The ruling means that Republican Howard Strauss cannot serve on the commission and the open seat will be turned over to Democrat Robert L. Burkhart, who lost to Strauss by 157 votes in November's election.
"I'm surprised the court would overrule the people," said Strauss. "To me, it's purely political."
Strauss said the all-Democratic Supreme Court made the decision in order to put a Democrat on the commission. "This is the height of crooked politics in West Virginia," Strauss said. "The public has no reason to vote in future elections when the justices can hand pick their chosen elected officials."