It took every bit of a year, but the State Corporation Commission is back to three judges.
Patricia L. West on Monday was sworn in as the 35th member of the SCC since its founding in 1902 as an independent regulatory body in the Constitution of Virginia.
West, 57, is a former circuit court judge and official at Regent University who also was a Cabinet secretary under Gov. George Allen and a top aide to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, both Republicans.
West was elected by the General Assembly in mid-January to fill the unexpired term of Judge James C. Dimitri, who retired Feb. 28, 2018. She will face re-election next year after elections that will determine party control of the General Assembly.
Senate and House Republicans pushed her surprise candidacy in a whirlwind confirmation process to settle a critical judicial vacancy that had remained open because the two chambers couldn’t agree on a successor to Dimitri.
Republicans, as the majority party in each chamber, effectively elect judges by caucus vote.
West has nearly 25 years of experience in public service, including 12 years as a circuit court judge and three as a juvenile and domestic relations court judge, both in Virginia Beach. After leaving the bench, she worked as chief deputy attorney general for Cuccinelli for two years and then served four years as associate dean at the Regent University School of Law.
Previously, she had served under Allen as director of the Department of Juvenile Justice and then as secretary of public safety.
On the SCC, West joins Chairwoman Judith Williams Jagdmann and Judge Mark C. Christie, who have presided short-handed over a busy calendar with the implementation of the Grid Transformation and Security Act adopted last year for Virginia’s two largest electric utilities.
The commission regulates public utilities, insurance companies, state-chartered financial institutions, financial securities, retail franchising, railroad safety, and protection of underground utility lines. It also registers corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and business trusts that do business in Virginia.