Brian Cochran

PRINCETON — Members of the Mercer County Commission announced Tuesday that the Republican nominee who is running unopposed in November for prosecuting attorney will be appointed to temporarily fill the position after the current prosecutor leaves to accept another position in Kanawha County.

Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler submitted his letter of resignation Sept. 30 to the county commission. Sitler said that he decided to resign and accept employment in Kanawha County as an assistant prosecutor after he did not secure the Republican nomination for reelection last June.

Attorney Brian Cochran won the Republican nomination for prosecuting attorney during the June elections. It was his first run for political office, and he will run unopposed in November because no Democrat filed to run for the position.

County Commission President Gene Buckner said Tuesday during the commission’s October meeting that he had spoken to Cochran about being appointed to fill the position of county prosecutor after Sitler leaves office on Oct. 30. He will start work as prosecutor on Nov. 1.

According to the West Virginia Code, the commission must fill the prosecuting attorney’s position within 30 days. This person must be a member of the same political party as the official leaving office, County Commissioner Bill Archer said after Sitler submitted his resignation Cochran takes up his duties as the county’s new prosecuting attorney on Jan. 4, 2021, Archer said. Since he is in the same party as Sitler, he can fill in the position temporarily until his term begins.

Cochran will be appointed at a special meeting of the county commission. A date had not been set Tuesday. Archer said the county commission would have to check state law to see if Cochran could be sworn into office early.

“We’ll have to check and see if we can get a circuit court judge to do that and see if that is legal for him to do that,” he said.

“I think it will definitely help out, jumping in there early and getting a head start; and not having the attorneys and staff there go through two different transitions in such a short period of time,” Cochran said later. “I’m excited. I understand it’s a huge responsibility. There’s no question about that, but I’m looking forward to the challenges of the office, to jump in there and get started early on doing the very best job I can for the people of Mercer County.”

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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