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Humphrey, Lewis seek W.Va. magistrate post

November 01, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County voters have an unusual opportunity in a contested magistrate race Tuesday.

Whether they choose Republican Kirby Lewis or Democrat Jim Humphrey, neither will be elected to a traditional, four-year term. The position pays $50,000 a year.

Humphrey, 55, of Ridge Road, Martinsburg was appointed in July 2005 by Chief 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III to fill a vacancy caused by Kristy Dyroff's resignation.

But under state code, Humphrey's appointment expires in December. Lewis, 46, of Winchester Avenue, Inwood, W.Va., didn't shy from noting in a recent interview that Dyroff, a Republican, was replaced with a Democrat.

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Humphrey downplayed his party affiliation when interviewed.

"I feel that I'm compassionate. I do believe in justice," said Humphrey, who retired from the West Virginia State Police after nearly 21 years of service. "I do feel every person is an individual and they need to be treated as such."

To be a magistrate, Lewis said, "you have to be able to have a defining sense of what is right and what is wrong."

Lewis said his military service in the U.S. Navy, particularly serving in "positions of trust" with top security clearance and active involvement in a number of organizations has helped prepare him for the position.

"I just feel it's my time to contribute to the community," Lewis said.

He also emphasized his ability to communicate and believes communication skills are "crucially important" to being a magistrate.

Humphrey said he has enjoyed serving the public, through his own military service in the U.S. Marine Corps., and stints as a court bailiff and chief corrections officer at Martinsburg Correctional Center.

Though he does have a law enforcement background, Humphrey said he has been able to remain impartial and has even ruled against the state "on several occasions.

"Even as a state trooper when I did charge someone I did a thorough investigation," Humphrey said.

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