Seven run for Court of Appeals seat

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Following the retirement of former Court of Appeals Judge Janet Stumbo, a special election to replace her has attracted a virtual who’s-who of the Eastern Kentucky legal community.

Seven candidates have lined up in a bid for the 7th District, Division 2 seat. They include current Judge Gene Smallwood Jr., of Whitesburg, who was appointed this month by Gov. Matt Bevin to fill the position until the election is held.

The field also includes two other finalists selected by the Judicial Nominating Commission for that position, Jim Vanover, of Prestonsburg, and Marcia Wireman, of Jackson.

Vanover is a partner in the firm of Vanover, Hall and Bartley and has served as an assistant county attorney since 2014.

Wireman has represented insurance companies for over 30 years and serves as trial commissioner and master commissioner in Breathitt County.

The rest of the field also brings impressive resumes to the list. They include:

  • Current Pike Family Court Judge Larry Thompson, who has over 22 years experience as a district and circuit judge.
  • David Allen Barber, of Morehead, who served on the Court of Appeals from 2000 to 2007 and briefly served on the Supreme Court in 2015.
  • Donald Howard Combs, who is senior partner at Combs and Combs in Pikeville and is the husband of former state Rep. Leslie Combs.
  • Kevin Sinnette, of Ashland, who currently serves as state representative for the 100th District.

The number of candidates means there will be an election to trim the field in May, with the top two vote-getters squaring off in November.