Controversial Judge Appointment In Wood County

A judicial appointment sparks threats of political retribution and accusations of betrayal in Wood county.

"The Republicans won this seat and and the Republicans should retain this seat," said Wood County Republican chair, Kay Sloan.

Last week was the resignation of Republican Royce McCoy as County Judge. Today Wood County Commisioners were to pick an interim to fill the post. A replacement backed by the County Republican party, a Naval Academy graduate named Charles Stackhouse was expected to be named, but thats not what happened.

"At this time I nominate Don Hightower" said commisioner Jerry Galloway.

Appointed by a 3-1 vote, with 3 Republican commisioners. The appointment was met with anger by the County Republican chair.

"I have never seen Mr. Hightower at any Republican function in the more than 6 years that I have served as chairman" said Sloan.

"3 of them are supposed to be Republican representatives yet, they didn't regard a Republican candidate" said Wood County voter Jenette Sterner.

In a statement released Friday night, Mr. Hightower says he is "flattered and humbled" by the appointment, and he considers himself an independent voter. His voting record confirms that. Out of the last seven, he's voted in the Democratic primary three times, the Republican one, four. But the commissioners that made the decision are still feeling the pressure.

"It will be interesting to see how the veterans and patriotic people of Wood county vote in commissioners races in the future" Sloan said.

"I feel threatened that my political career is over as a Republican, do I think that the people of Wood county who elect me to be someone who just does what Kay Sloan tells me to do by trying to strong arm me, or do they want me to make the right decisions for the people of Wood county" said Jerry Gaskill, Wood County Commissioner Precinct 2.

Hightower will only serve a few months, two new candidates have already been chosen for the general election.

Bob Hallmark reporting.