Gov. Jim Justice appointed a Baptist pastor Monday to fill the empty seat of a House delegate who died last month.
Kevan Bartlett, 59, senior pastor at Maranatha Baptist Church, will finish out the term of the late Delegate Sharon Lewis Malcolm, R-Kanawha.
When asked for his legislative priorities, he listed anti-abortion policy, protecting the right to bear arms, and creating job opportunities in the state — in that order.
“I have eight grandchildren, I hope they’re in a place when they become adults that our state is a place that they can find a job growing right up at home,” he said. “I loved growing up in West Virginia, I love the state, and just want a bright future, and to the degree that I can help, I want to do that.”
He sought out the job after a current legislator, who he declined to identify, reached out to him and recommended he apply. He said he’s planning to run for a full term in 2020.
Barlett’s father, Bill Bartlett, started the church in 1969. After the younger Bartlett graduated the former Tennessee Temple University, he joined his father as an associate pastor, a role he filled for 24 years. Bartlett took over as a senior pastor 11 years ago when his father retired.
“I’ve been where I am in the place of ministry for 35 years,” he said.
To date, three other candidates have filed preliminary paperwork to run for the seat. They include David “Woody” Holmes, a Democrat who ran for the seat in 2018, as well as Dana Ferrell, who ran in 2018 as an independent, and Ryan Lemmon, who made the short list for the appointment.
Along with Bartlett and Lemmon, the Kanawha County Republican Executive committee placed Vaughn Sizemore on the short list for Justice’s consideration.
Bartlett is the second consecutive appointee to the seat. Malcolm took it over in March 2018 after former delegate Ron Walters signed a plea agreement that involved him resigning and not running again. He was accused of forging a signature, falsifying a $70,000 lien against a Wayne County woman over a double-wide mobile home.
Bartlett graduated from Elk Valley Christian School after attending public elementary and junior high in Sissonville. Apart from being a “terrible” golfer, he said the community already knows him well.
“As a pastor, I feel like I live in a fishbowl and everybody knows everything about me,” he said.