UPDATE: (5:30 p.m. April 28, 2022): Following allegations from Andrea Kiessling’s opponent Joshua Higginbotham claiming she did not meet the state’s citizenship requirements to be a candidate for the 8th Senate district, a resident of Kanawha County has filed a lawsuit against Kiessling seeking to get her removed from the ballot.
CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)–A candidate for the West Virginia Senate is under fire, accused of not meeting the state’s citizenship requirements.
Andrea Kiessling of Roane County has filed to run in the 8th Senate district. But one of her Republican opponents in the primary, Joshua Higginbotham, claims Kiessling has not lived in West Virginia for the necessary five years prior to filing.
“We have gathered some evidence that suggests that she has not lived in West Virginia for that long. In fact she has been back and forth, living in North Carolina for the past decade,” said Joshua Higginbotham, (R) Candidate Senate District 8.
Indeed, Kiessling concedes she has worked and voted in North Carolina over the past few years. But she maintains that she is a citizen of West Virginia.
“Unlike my opponent, I work very hard and I do not expect my parents to support myself or my family,” Kiessling said. “So, in an effort to provide for my family, I’ve taken opportunities and operated businesses that required me to split my time between West Virginia and other states.”
Kiessling says she is now able to work from home, meaning she will live and work in West Virginia year-round. Still, the question remains: does a 10-year voting record in North Carolina, including as recently as 2020, disqualify her from office under West Virginia’s constitutional five-year citizenship rule?
Candidate Kiessling asked to read her statement in an interview with 13 News Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis, and we agreed. But we did have some follow-ups:
“To me it’s a simple question, are you, or are you not a citizen of this state for the past five years?” asked Curtis.
“I am a citizen of this state, yes,” said Kiessling.
“Even though you worked and voted in another state?” Curtis asked.
Kiessling said, “Correct.”
The Secretary is State’s office says it is possible to be a citizen of one state, but to live in another. You can vote in either, but it’s illegal to vote in both. There’s no evidence Kiessling ever tried to vote in both.
According to previous court rulings, a voting record is just one, but not the only potential indicator of true citizenship, so?
“She has never voted in a general election in West Virginia her entire life… we are going to take this to court and file a lawsuit,” said candidate Higginbotham.
Ballots are already printed and early voting is underway. Any legal ruling on the validity of this election would have to come after the May 10th primary is over.