MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Local attorney Michael Simms has been elected as the next Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge in the Division 1 seat on the 21st West Virginia Judicial Circuit.

Simms won the race with 6,324, incumbent Paul Gwaltney finished second with 5,196, and Natalie Sal finished third with 3,645.

Gwaltney was appointed in 2023 by Gov. Justice to complete the term of Judge Susan Tucker, who retired.

“We worked so incredibly hard over the last year to get to every single part of this county that we could get to,” Simms said. “Just to meet people where they were and to talk with them, get to know them, and give them an opportunity to get to know me and my family.”

Simms is the current Chairman of the Monongalia County Public Defender’s Corporation and comes to the bench with two decades of experience as an attorney.

A priority for Simms is finding ways to positively impact the drug epidemic in North, Central, and West Virginia. To do that, he has called for the establishment of a drug court, similar to a family court or juvenile court in other judicial districts. As the first chairperson of the Monongalia County Public Defender’s Corporation who has seen his fair share of defenses related to drug offenses, Simms feels this would be a good step in the right direction.

During the campaign, Simms pledged to be a judge for all citizens and expressed interest in establishing a legal mentorship program so residents can have the best legal representation possible, regardless of their circumstances.

“Our theme through this whole time for the campaign has been to be visible and accessible, and I’m so grateful the people of Mon County have put their trust in me for this position.”