Running for Office
There is more to running for office other than filling out a form and paying a fee, the biggest step is deciding. Use the checklist on this page to help determine what issues you will face. This page is designed to answer any questions you may have about being able to run for office.
Is Public Office right for you?
Public service is demanding and time consuming. Are you ready for the challenge?
Are you interested in helping your community and state, and willing to give much of your own time to public service?
Are you willing to make yourself available to citizens by telephone and in person to talk about the issues which concern them?
Are you ready to campaign for the office you choose?
Is the Office that you would like to hold available?
Choosing the best office is important both to you and to the voters, but you cannot run for an office that will not be up for election. See our 2016 Offices on the Ballot page.
For information about unexpired county offices, call your County Clerk.
For information about unexpired municipal offices, call your City Clerk.
Do you meet the eligibility requirements of the office?
Candidates for all state, county and municipal offices must be eligible to register to vote in the political division where the office is on the ballot. A candidate is not required to be registered to vote in order to be eligible to run for or be elected to office.
"Residence" for voting and candidacy means where you live the majority of the time. Staying away temporarily (such as for school, a temporary work assignment, or a weekend or winter home) may not end your residence in a place. However, your residence is not a business address, an extra place you own, or a place you stay occasionally.
The deadline for establishing a residence in the area where the office is on the ballot varies. Some offices require longer residence in the state or district.
You must meet the age requirements by the date of the election to that office (Primary Election Day for Board of Education, or Executive Committee General Election Day for other public offices).
Some offices require special qualifications.
Will becoming a candidate or getting elected affect your employment status?
Some people must make a choice between a public office and their employment because of legal or ethical conflicts. A "yes" answer to any of these questions could mean a problem for your candidacy which you should resolve before you file. When the issue is a potential conflict of interest, contact the West Virginia Ethics Commission. For further information contact the West Virginia Division of Personnel for further guidance.
Are you a federal employee who is covered by the Hatch Act?
Hatch Act covered employees may not become candidates for partisan office, but may run for non-partisan office (Board of Education). Check with your employer about your status. Becoming a candidate could affect your employment.
Are you a state employee?
Members of the State Senate and House of Delegates may not be employees of the State of West Virginia.
Are you a state employee in a classified position (formerly called Civil Service)?
Classified personnel are barred from becoming candidates for any public office. If you file, you face being put on unpaid leave or dismissed.
Are you an employee, even part time, of the Division of Highways?
Highways personnel are barred from becoming candidates for any public office. If you file for office, the law says your position will be vacated.
Are you an employee of a County Commission?
A deputy sheriff (other than the chief deputy) may not run for office without resigning. Most other commission employees may run for office. If elected to County Commission, however, the employee would have to resign the job before taking office. Some employees of independent boards funded by the County Commission may have a conflict with election to the County Commission. Contact the West Virginia Ethics Commission for more information.
Are you an employee of a municipality which prohibits its employees from running for office by charter provision?
A municipality may prevent its employees from holding municipal office in the same community by charter or ordinance provision. It is unclear whether all candidacy can be prohibited.
Are you a member of a paid police or fire department?
A member of a paid police or fire department may not be a candidate or hold any public office in the municipality in which he or she is employed. In addition, a municipal police officer or paid member of a fire department that is subject to the provisions of the Hatch Act may not be a candidate for any elective office.
Do you own a company that does business with the state or county?
The law prevents public officers from having a financial interest in contracts under their control. Contact the WV Ethics Commission for information about the restrictions under the Ethics laws and criminal provisions of the West Virginia Code.
Are you an employee of a private employer who prohibits employees from running for office?
A corporation may not prevent its employees from participating in political activity on their own time. However, it is not clear whether a private employee has a right to time off from work with a private employer to fulfill the functions of an elective office. Talk to your employer. Check with your labor representative about your right to participate in political activity.
If you already hold a public office, can you become a candidate for another?
Some public positions and offices have restrictions on political activity.
Are you a member of a state board or commission established by law?
Various state boards and commissions have provisions in the law which restrict candidacy, holding office and political activity. Check with the administrator who works with your board, or search the law for your organization at the web site of the West Virginia Legislature and read the provisions there.
Are you a judicial officer?
The Code of Judicial Ethics prohibits any member of the judiciary (Justice, Judge or Magistrate) from filing for any partisan office other than a judicial office. Contact the Judicial Investigations Commission if you have questions.
Are you a member of a board of education?
The Board of Education is non-partisan, and board members are required to resign before filing as a candidate for any other partisan office or party executive committee.
Are you an elected official who wants to run for and hold another elective office without resigning from the previous position?
Conflicts between offices are complex and there is a long history of court cases and Attorney General Opinions on various combinations of offices. Here are some general principals:
- One person cannot hold two full-time elective positions.
- The separation of powers prevents a person from holding a position in two different branches of government (executive, legislative & judicial) at the same time. (A few exceptions may exist when the officers are at two different levels, such as state and municipal.)
- If one office has some control over finances or policy relating to the other office, one person usually cannot hold both offices (such as County Commissioner and Mayor).
Are you an elected official who wants to run for and hold a party executive committee position without resigning from the previous position?
Most elected officials except judicial officers and members of a Board of Education may run for and serve on executive committees.