KEYSER - Mineral County voters will have one more office to vote on when they go to the polls in November.

The position of county clerk, vacant since Jan. 27 when Judge Thomas Keadle ordered Isaac "Sonny" Alt be removed from office as the result of a sexual harassment complaint against him, will be on the ballot for the general election.

The winner of that election will serve out the remainder of what would have been Alt's six-year term.

According to Ben Beakes, chief of staff with the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office, candidates for the office will be appointed by their party's executive committees.

"They must appoint someone by 78 days prior to the general election," he said. "That's Aug. 1.

"If they fail to make an appointment, then the executive committee chairman has until two days after Aug. 1 to appoint someone," he said.

Bob Harman, chairman of Mineral County's Republican Executive Committee, said they plan to discuss a candidate during their June 13 meeting.

He invites any Republican interested in running for the position to contact him prior to the meeting date.

Speculation on a Republican candidate for the office has centered around Lauren Ellifritz, however. Ellifritz, who served as deputy clerk and elections clerk for several years, was named interim county clerk by the Mineral County Commission in February.

She will remain in that position until the duly elected candidate is sworn in January 2007.

David Webb, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, could not be reached for comment.

He said in March, however, that the Democratic Executive Committee members were looking at placing a candidate on the November ballot to challenge Republican incumbent Bob Schadler for his seat in the 49th Delegate District.

With that in mind, the Democrats could possibly be announcing candidates for two different offices prior to Aug. 1.

The county clerk's position was not placed on the primary election ballot because of the timing of the conclusion of the court case.

Although Alt was removed from office prior to the deadline for the May 9 primary, the Secretary of State's office said his position could not be considered officially vacant until his 30-day appeal period was over.

When Alt did not appeal the decision of the three-judge panel that ordered him removed from office, that portion of the case was officially concluded.

The complaint filed against him and the Mineral County Commission through the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, however, is still active.

According to Ivan Lee, executive director of the Human Rights Commission, the complainant, former deputy clerk Deborah Weasenforth, has until Tuesday to file a civil case in Mineral County Circuit Court.

If she chooses to do that, the case will be out of the Human Rights Commission's hands.

If Weasenforth decides not to move the case to circuit court, however, it will stay with the Human Rights Commission, where it has been assigned to one of three administrative law judges.

Liz Beavers can be reached at lbeavers@times-news.com.

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