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Tomblin appoints Romney judge to 15th District Senate seat previously held by Helmick

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Judge Donald H. Cookman has been named the newest state senator, tapped by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to represent the 15th Senatorial District to fill the vacancy created when former Sen. Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, resigned to run for Commissioner of Agriculture.

Tomblin issued a news release about his announcement at 7 p.m. Jan. 23. The district's Democratic Executive Committee submitted three names of its nominations for the position Jan. 18. Those nominees were Cookman, Thomas J. Hawse of Hardy County and Mike Ross of Upshur County.

Cookman most recently served as the Chief Judge of the 22nd Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Hampshire, Hardy and Pendleton counties, and he has served as a circuit judge since 1993, according to Tomblin's news release.

He started his legal career in 1971 in Romney, and served as the Hampshire County Prosecuting Attorney from 1973 through 1992 and also as a Special Prosecuting Attorney in Hardy, Pendleton and Mineral counties. He has served as president of the West Virginia Judicial Association and as a member and chairman of the Judicial Ethics Commission. Cookman also was recently appointed one of three judges on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals' newly formed statewide business court.

Cookman received his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University and graduated from the WVU College of Law in 1971. He lives in Romney with his wife, Paula Jean. The Cookmans have three children and three grandchildren.