By Rachel Dove
WILLIAMSON - As Miki Thompson took the oath of office Thursday as the new Mingo County circuit judge, it was seen by many as the beginning of a new era in county politics.
Thompson was the recipient of a standing ovation from members of the West Virginia State Bar, family members, county employees and a large number of well-wishers, at the conclusion of the oath of office that was administered by Senior Status Judge John Cummings, who had served in the capacity of circuit judge of Mingo County since last Aug. 15, after former judge Michael Thornsbury resigned from office following his federal indictment.
Thompson told those in attendance that she was humbled at the large crowd that had gathered to share her special day, and thanked all those who had supported her and worked hard to get her elected during the May primary. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Thompson to the position within days of her victory.
“I am truly humbled at the trust the good people of this county placed in me to do a fair and just job serving their needs,” Thompson said. “The people of Mingo County elected me - and I will serve the people of Mingo County.”
“I promise that I will do everything I can to bring trust, honor and justice back to the courtroom,” the new judge said.
Thompson’s first official act as circuit judge on Thursday was to administer the oath of office to Jim Harvey, who won election as the county’s new magistrate, filling the vacancy that was created following the resignation of Dallas Toler, who also was charged by a federal grand jury. Harvey was victorious over four other candidates to claim that seat, and said he looks forward to serving the residents of Mingo County.
“The people of this county deserve to be treated fair and just, without prejudice or partialism,” Harvey said. “Whether you are the victim of a crime or the person being charged, your rights are to be protected. No matter what the situation may be, each and every person that enters a courtroom is to be treated the same.”
“For too long the faith in our judicial system has been questioned, and for good reason,” the new magistrate said. “It’s high time that we turn a new page and get back out from under that dark cloud of suspicion and disgrace.
“You could search the world over and not find finer people than we have right here in Mingo County, and they deserve far more than what they’ve received in the past years,” he said.
Harvey has named Darlena Hannah, the spouse of former sheriff Lonnie Hannah, as his magistrate assistant. Hannah was administered her oath of office on Wednesday.
“All I can say is - it’s a great day for Mingo County,” sad Earl Baisden of Matewan, who attended the ceremony. “Miki is a wonderful lady who is not only smart, but has a heart for the people and those are traits I definitely didn’t see in Mike Thornsbury. She honestly cares about doing the right thing, and I think the voters made a smart decision when they cast their votes for her.”
Baisden went on to say that, although he does not personally know the new magistrate, he is friends with people who are acquainted with him and feels that he will do what’s right.
“From what I understand, he’s a good man that has worked all his life and also gives back to his community,” Baisden said. “My prayers are with him that God will guide his steps and bless him to serve the county in the way it deserves to be.
“God bless our county,” Baisden said as he walked away. “I pray our future is bright and prosperous … it’s been a long time coming.”