CHARLESTON — Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has named Danville’s Town Manager as the newest delegate in the state legislature.
Tomblin made the appointment of Josh Barker official in a Twitter feed late Wednesday afternoon. Earlier, a capitol source had confirmed that Barker was about to be named. Tomblin appointed Barker to replace 22nd Delegate District representative Josh Stowers, who resigned to accept a position in the state treasurer’s office.
State law required that the Twenty-second Delegate District Executive Committee submit three names to Tomblin for consideration as Stowers’s replacement. The committee met at the Lincoln County courthouse in Hamlin last Thursday evening. After hearing from five potential candidates, the committee sent the names of Barker, Gary McCallister and Wendy Elswick to the governor.
Because of personal problems with the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Elswick withdrew from consideration Friday, leaving Tomblin to choose from Barker, the son of his senior advisor Raamie Barker, and union organizer McCallister. Unions throughout the region were said to have heavily lobbied for McCallister’s appointment. McCallister is also a member of the Lincoln County school board.
“I’ve known Josh his entire life and am pleased to appoint such an advocate for the people to the House of Delegates,” Tomblin said. “His experience managing the town of Danville along with his keen understanding of important issues affecting working men and women and the coal mining region will guide him in this new capacity.”
The law required that the governor name a replacement for Stowers within five days after receiving the committee’s recommendations. Governor’s office lawyers maintained that meant the deadline came at the close of business Wednesday. It was also required that the replacement for Stowers reside in the district and be a registered Democrat, which was the former delegate’s party affiliation.
A Chapmanville native, Barker’s public service career includes serving as Town Manager for the Town of Danville for the past five years and working for the West Virginia Division of Highways. Barker is member of the West Virginia Municipal Leagues’ Board of Directors for Town Managers, a former member of the Madison Rotary Club, and has served as an assistant high school football coach at Chapmanville High School, his alma mater.
Barker attended Marshall University and earned a certificate in oil and gas well management from Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
The avid outdoorsman is married to Jill Lambert Barker, vice principal at Chapmanville High School. The couple resides in Ellis Fork of Big Ugly with their daughter, Katy Grace. Barker will complete Stowers’s unexpired term, which ends on December 31, 2014. Voters in the 22nd District will be asked to choose their two representatives in next year’s election for terms that begin in January 2015. The other district delegate is Jeff Eldridge of Lincoln County.