As a member of the Ohio County Development Authority board, West Virginia Sen. Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio, helped bring a myriad of retailers to The Highlands.
Now Klempa will have even more direct influence on the local economy upon taking office in January as the new Ohio County commissioner. He will take the seat previously occupied by longtime commissioner David Sims, who resigned this summer to take an appointment as a circuit judge. John Clarke is now serving as the interim commissioner.
"I went to the Ohio County voters one more time. I am humbled to receive the support and look forward to getting to work," Klempa said.
Democrat Klempa defeated Republican opponent Patty Levenson by a count of 9,436 votes to 7,638, the unofficial tally indicates.
Klempa - who said he will soon resign his position as state senator - is set to join Commissioners Randy Wharton and Tim McCormick in running the county's operations. He said working as a commissioner will enable him to have greater influence on local issues.
"I think you have more opportunity to influence economic development at the county level. We need to focus on how we can get more jobs from the Marcellus Shale," he said.
"We need to focus on working with other counties, even those across the river in Ohio. We have to think of ways that we can work together for everyone's benefit," Klempa added.
Along with serving in the state Senate and two terms in the House of Delegates, Klempa is a service representative of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters, West Virginia District, and co-chairman of Project BEST. He is a member of the board of Trustees at Ohio Valley Medical Center and a director of the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce and the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau. He also serves as a member of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley.