WHEELING - State Sen. Orphy Klempa announced Friday he might like to stay closer to home and be an Ohio County commissioner.
Klempa confirmed he submitted his letter of interest this week to the county's Democrat Party, which has been seeking a candidate to fill the ballot spot for commissioner left vacant when David Sims withdrew from the race to assume the job of Ohio County circuit court judge.
And Klempa - a Bellaire native - believes he has the contacts on both sides of the river to build regional economic partnerships.
SEN. ORPHY KLEMPA
"As a state legislator, you're probably more limited," he said. "You have to focus on your state, and your area. As a commissioner, you can focus on an entire region. Whatever happens in Ohio, benefits us in Ohio County. We share this economic area, and I believe there are some economic opportunities for all of us.
"There is some some opportunity from the county commissioner's platform to reach out and create partnerships to make some economic developments happen," he said.
Klempa spoke of the need for economic diversification in the Ohio Valley.
"At the end of the day, there has to be more than trailer parks, fast food places, new hotels, oil and gas leases, and royalty payments for residents," Klempa said. "We need something for the long term. Somebody has to reach out to neighboring counties. We have to share economically and put our differences aside, and make sure all our residents share in economic development. And I feel I have garnered enough relationships in my career to make that happen."
Klempa said it has never been his intention "to be a life-long legislator," and that he supports term limits for state lawmakers.
But at age 61, he said he would like to stay closer to home with family than spend long periods of time away in Charleston. He is also considering retirement from his job as business representative for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters.
"I enjoy what I've been doing in Charleston, and I'm thankful for the time," he said. "It's not an easy decision. A lot of people have been so much a part of my success. But there's an opportunity here for somebody like me. If you look at the faces of the Legislature, they're all getting younger - and that's not a bad thing."
The county Democrat Executive Committee will meet to consider the applicants and choose their candidate for commissioner at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the party's campaign headquarters at the Board of Trade Building at 12th and Chapline streets in Wheeling.
The candidate selected will face Republican Patty Levenson in the Nov. 6 general election.
If Klempa is selected as the Democrat nominee for commission, and he were to go on to win the election, he would have to resign his state Senate seat. Klempa is not up for re-election as a senator this year, and doesn't have to resign his seat unless he were to win the second elected office.