According to the Secretary of State’s
office, the governor has the authority to make four types of appointments: executive
agency heads, vacancies in public office, resignations, and members of boards
Boards which have governing authority, including the
authority to make rules with the force of law, are created by the Legislature;
boards which are created to serve in an advisory or study capacity may be
created by either the legislature or by the governor; and a few boards are created
by other means, such as by the courts.
The overwhelming majority of the boards created by statute
are appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate. According to
the governor’s office, there are close to 19 hundred seats on more than 200
Specifications outlining how many members sit on each board,
their qualifications, and their term limits are typically determined by
legislators. In some cases, for example, membership must be evenly distributed
between the three congressional districts.
Under the current administration, the appointing process
more or less begins with Becky Neal, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, who
oversees executive appointments for Gov. Tomblin.
“The process would basically be that whenever our office
solicits individuals—let’s say they are interested in a particular area like
insurance—we request that they send a letter of interest with a resume to our
office,” Neal explains.
“We look to see if they fit all the criteria, and again
that is spelled out in detail by the statute. Then when we see that yes, they
do qualify, we take those to the governor for consideration for appointment.”
Neal says some of Tomblin’s personal priorities when
considering board members are geographic diversity as well as reaching out to
various minority groups throughout the state.
Once the governor’s office makes selections, those recommendations
are submitted to the state Senate where they are considered by the
Confirmations Committee. Senate president Jeff Kessler says it’s much like the
federal process for appointing cabinet members.
“During the legislative session they will convene that
committee throughout the sixty-day session and have the candidates who are
being considered in for interviews before the full committee where folks can
find out about their background, their education, their training, their
particular interest in the various topic that’s going to be appointed,” Kessler
“At that point the Confirmation Committee makes a recommendation to the
full senate, and the full senate will vote up or down to appoint those members
“These can range from the board of education to a cabinet
secretary to people who are appointed to the board of barbers and cosmetology.”
Kessler says the Senate considers hundreds of
recommendations each year.
“We’ll probably have a hundred or so names come up two or
three times a year for consideration for various boards. They stagger them. A
lot of these boards are for six-year terms; some of them are for 12-year
terms, eight-year terms. There’s usually a member or two from every board we
have that come up.
"Whether it’s for a board of governors for a high education
institution—look at how many boards we have from WVU to Marshall
to West Liberty to Concord.
You name them and they all come up for confirmation.”
Kessler says, for the most part, it’s a smooth process.
“We try to be deferential to some degree to the governor.
These are folks that he or she are appointing because they’ve vetted and believe
that they will work with the philosophy of the administration but again, it’s a
separate but equal branch of government that has to confirm them. I would say
that the overwhelming majority of the folks that are nominated by the governor
get the appointment but it’s not always the case. There’s probably been a
handful of people over the years that have not gotten through the confirmation
The Senate President believes the system is a good one and
both he and the governor applaud the many members who give time from their
family and professional careers to serve, often without pay.