Stay at home. Stay at home. Stay at home.
In the age of the coronavirus, public health officials are repeating the public health mantra — stay at home.
Morgan County Commissioner and House of Delegates candidate Ken Reed — who owns Reed’s Pharmacy in Berkeley Springs — posted last week on his Facebook page a note to his friends — “Stay at Home WV.”
Now a lawsuit filed in state court in Charleston, West Virginia last week raises the question — where exactly is home for Ken Reed?
The lawsuit is being brought by Morgan County resident Howard Stone against West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and Reed.
Stone is being represented by former House of Delegates member and Charleston, West Virginia lawyer Patrick Lane.
Reed is running for House of Delegates from the 59th District — which includes the southern and eastern parts of Morgan County and western parts of Berkeley County. The seat is currently held by Republican Larry Kump.
Reed is currently on the ballot for the 59th District race and will face off against Kump in the Republican primary June 9. There is no Democrat in the race.
But Stone wants Warner to remove Reed’s name from the ballot.
Reed claims residency in the 59th District — at a house in the eastern part of Morgan County at a Hedgesville, West Virginia address.
Stone alleges in the lawsuit that “Reed is a resident of the 58th District rather than the 59th District from which he seeks nomination and possible election.”
The lawsuit was served at the Reed home in the 58th district.
Last week, Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Tera Salango ordered Warner and Reed to appear at a hearing on April 21, 2020 to show cause why Judge Salango shouldn’t remove Reed from the ballot. (Lane said in the court filing that given the coronavirus pandemic “telephonic arguments will provide this Court the proper balancing between permitting parties to present to the Court and protecting public health.”)
The lawsuit alleges that “the constitutional provision requiring one year of residency next preceding his election prohibits Reed from becoming the Republican Party nominee or Delegate for the 59th District” and that Reed has lived with his family in a large house in the 58th District “for several years.”
“There is a clear trail of evidence showing that Reed currently maintains (his home in the 58th District) as his residence or maintained this as his residence until January 2020,” the lawsuit alleges. “However, (that home) is not within the 59th District.”
“Upon deciding to run for election to the seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates District 59, Reed attempted to show that he lived in the District,” the lawsuit alleges. “On February 21, 2020, over a month after Reed filed to run for election, he changed his voter registration from (the house in the 58th District to the house in the 59th District.)”
“Reed could have well complied with the residency requirements of his home district where he lives (in the 58th District),” the lawsuit says. “Instead, Reed chose to file to run for a seat in the 59th District.”
The house in the 59th District is the same house that his wife Tally Reed claimed to live in when she ran for the same seat in 2018.
Tally Reed lost to Kump in the 2018 Republican primary by 34 votes — 987 to 953.
In 2018, a similar lawsuit brought by Stone and Patricia Adams, claimed Tally Reed didn’t live in the house in the 59th District but instead lived at their home in the 58th House of Delegates. That seat is held by Daryl Cowles (R).
Five days before the 2018 primary, Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit said she would not even consider arguments made by the residents because the petition was filed after early voting had started.
“Why not resolve it after the election?” Judge Tabit asked attorney Patrick Lane, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of the residents. “If there is an issue with respect to residency, it can be resolved then.”
Kump says that in the 2018 general election, Ken Reed endorsed Kump’s Democratic opponent John Isner. Kump defeated Isner in the general election in November 2018 — 4,526 (62 percent) to 2,778 (38 percent).
On March 17, 2020, Kump appeared on Eastern Panhandle Talk with Rob Mario and David Welch.
Welch asked Kump – “Do you believe Ken Reed lives in your district?”
“I don’t know where he lives,” Kump said. “I really don’t know where he lays his head at night. I know he claims he is at the same residence that his wife claimed during the last election. And I understand there is some contention and consternation about that.”
Welch said that Cowles has a very close relationship with Ken Reed and that “there is no love lost at all between Daryl Cowles and your close friend Mike Folk.”
Folk is the former member of the House of Delegates who is running for Governor.
“One is led to believe now, without stretching the imagination, that there are some real personality conflicts going on here for some reason,” Welch said.
“Seems to be,” Kump responded. “Delegate Cowles, in the last primary election did endorse Tally Reed and it was interesting to me that after I beat his wife Tally, Ken Reed endorsed my Democratic opponent. It’s gotten intense.”