Steele: “I feel strongly that this is the next stage in my life”
By Autumn Shelton, West Virginia Press Association
BECKLEY, W.Va. – Del. Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, has announced his candidacy for circuit court judge in Raleigh County’s 10th Judicial Circuit. As a result, Steele will not be seeking re-election to his seat in the House of Delegates.
“In 2018, I thought I would serve three terms in the House of Delegates,” Steele said in an interview following his announcement. “I have always been a supporter of term limits. It’s kind of bittersweet for me, but I feel really strongly about limiting myself.”
Steele continued that he felt it was time for another person to stand up and become a member of the “People’s House” when his term ends in 2024.
“West Virginia has been in a dynamic place of change for the last few years,” Steele said, adding that there has also been a lot of change in Raleigh County.
“We have had three very well-known and active attorneys pass away in the last year, and it has caused a huge change in the landscape of the legal community in Raleigh County. I feel strongly that this is the next stage in my life.”
Steele, a Raleigh County native, served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years, graduated from Mountain State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and received his law degree from Marquette University in Wisconsin. He has been a practicing attorney since 2014.
Steele is also publisher of LootPress, a regional online news operation based in Beckley, W.Va.
Although this upcoming legislative session will be the last one for Steele, he said that he still has work that he would like to accomplish.
“One of the things I was disappointed to see from last session was our code on human trafficking is a little outdated. I’ve had a bill for the last few years to do some reforms on that that we got through the House of Delegates, but the Senate didn’t take up. So, I’m hopeful we can revisit that. Everybody has become a lot more aware that West Virginia is not immune to this. As a matter of fact, we are a target, and we need to get serious about that.”
Steele said he also wanted to focus on the possibility of creating a statewide office to support volunteer fire departments.
“They are tasked with managing multi-million dollar budgets, and they need support from a central location,” Steele stated. “I think we could solve a lot of problems in our rural fire and EMS services by having some of those professionals, such as engineers and accountants and attorneys, that can be a backstop from a business standpoint. I think that would help a whole lot more.”
Lastly, he said he would like to see more work on improving the state’s jails and prisons.
“I think a lot of that is going to take a lot of work from a budget standpoint,” Steele noted.
The nonpartisan election for circuit court judge will take place in May 2024. Each judge is elected to serve an eight year term.
“We have wonderful judges, and I would have no intention of running against them, but I would anticipate one of them may not run again,” Steele concluded.