Election Preview: Morgan County Clerk

Morgan County voters have a few choices to make this election cycle. While many local races do not have Democratic candidates, there are quite a few Republican candidates. There are three candidates for sheriff, two for county clerk, and three for county commission representative from district 3. Election Day is May 10.

Morgan County Clerk Debra Kesecker has been at the helm of her office for a number of years. She is not running again. One of her deputy clerks, Kimberly Johnson-Nickles, who is in charge of handling estate settlements is running for county clerk. Also running in the primary is high school government teacher Kate Stotler.

Kimberly Johnson-Nickles, 52, is a graduate of Berkeley Springs High School. Her father was Herb Johnson of Herb’s Auto. She has an Associate degree in business from James Rumsey Technical. She’s worked at the county clerk’s office for over 14 years.

Johnson-Nickles said, “I’m not a politician. I’m an ordinary person trying to make their life better. I’ve worked hard the last 14 years to learn as much as I could about this office. I knew some day Mrs. Kesecker would retire. My dad told me to stay true to yourself and not become somebody you’re not.”

She believes her compassion, and dedication to hard work at the county clerk’s office give her the experience needed to step up from deputy clerk to county clerk. For 13 years, she has handled the estates. She’s ready to step up.

“At a delicate time in their lives, I’ve tried to help them through the process of probate,” Johnson-Nickles said. “I like helping the public solve any problem they may have when coming to our office. It’s rewarding.” 

She said many have said they helped her tremendously, and she has never had any complaints.

“I don’t have to be trained,” she added. “I know the job.”

Johnson-Nickles’ challenger Kate Stotler is married to family court judge Glen Stotler. She has a bachelor’s degree from College of William & Mary and Masters from WVU. She was the 2009 Morgan County Teacher of the Year.

She served on the executive committee and was an outreach work group chair of Morgan County Citizens for Successful Schools and served on the board of Travel Berkeley Springs, and Morgan County Boys & Girls Club.

Stotler said she believes it’s time for a changing of the guard in the county clerk’s office, and she is the one for the job. Her motto is “ready to serve.”

When she graduated from college in 1981, she wanted to work on Republican campaigns. She got a job at the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C. Ever since, she said she helped others in their campaigns. After that, she taught government to high school students.

Stotler said, “After many years of the same leader, it’s often necessary to bring in someone with a new eye and fresh perspective. No one has the right to the job of county clerk. It takes someone getting up every morning to see what they can do to help. It takes someone out in the community actively volunteering and listening to the concerns of our citizens.”

She said she will listen carefully to the concerns people have for making the Clerk’s office more helpful and accessible to Morgan County residents.

Photo: Kimberly Johnson-Nickles (left), Kate Stotler (right)