By Joe Hadsall
MIAMI, Okla. — Ottawa County voters in Oklahoma’s primary election on July 29 will elect a new county commissioner for District 2.
Commerce voters will elect a mayor. Mayor Kenneth Duboise died while in office.
Democratic incumbent Kenneth Palmer will run against Gary Wyrick in the primary election. The winner will run unopposed in the November general election, virtually assured of election.
The annual salary for the position is $32,000. Commissioners serve four-year terms.
Palmer, 63, is a construction-equipment company owner and has served as District 2 commissioner since 2004. The Miami resident has an associate degree from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M; College in Miami.
Palmer said his top priority would be to monitor the local, fuel-tax-based economy.
“As people slow down driving, there is less money to work with,” Palmer said. “We’ll have to make every move count, and hire good people to get more work done.”
Palmer cited his experience as why he should be re-elected. He said he has years of experience in construction work, monitoring large jobs and owning equipment.
“We have already hired a lot of good people and bought good equipment,” Palmer said. “We have also paid off most of our indebtedness over the last four years, so we’re in good shape.”
Wyrick, 56, is a truck driver for a Minnesota-based company and worked as a road foreman for the county for 11 years. The Wyandotte resident has a degree from Wyandotte High School.
Wyrick said his top priority would be looking at financial matters, and ensuring that rural fire departments get back on track financially.
“We need to keep on top of things instead of letting go of them,” Wyrick said. “Finances need to be watched monthly.”
Wyrick cited his willingness to listen and work full-time as why he should be elected. If elected, he said he will quit his truck-driving job.
“I will be a full-time commissioner,” Wyrick said. “I will be out and about daily, 24-seven.”
In Commerce, two men are vying for the post.
Kenneth L. Leggett Jr. and Michael Hart will square off in the July 29 election.
The unexpired term of Duboise will end in 2011. The position pays $100 a month.
Leggett, 56, is a maintenance worker in the Ottawa County Courthouse. He retired from a 20-year career in the National Guard in 2002.
The lifelong Commerce resident also served on the council from 1999 to 2005, including a 10-month stint as mayor. He left the council because of health-related reasons. This is his third time running in a mayoral election; he lost the previous two times.
Leggett said he could not choose a top priority if elected. He said he would work with the council to upgrade a number of city services.
“We have a lot of issues that need to be addressed, such as our streets, wastewater and trash services,” Leggett said. “To me, they are all equally important.”
Leggett cited his previous experience on the council as why he should be elected.
“I’m familiar with the way the system works, so I won’t be going in cold,” Leggett said. “I know all the councilpersons, and we work well together.”
Hart, 25, recently finished a tour of duty with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division. The lifelong Commerce resident is a student at NEO studying early childhood education, and the assistant director of Jelly Bean Kids Childcare.
This is Hart’s first attempt at running for public office.
Hart said his top priority would be to look at the city’s water service and check for accurate billing.
“A lot of people are complaining about their water bills,” Hart said. “I want to look at the budget with the council and figure out a solution.”
Hart said his willingness to work hard is the reason he should be elected.
“I’m ready and willing to work with the council on solving city problems,” Hart said. “I was born and raised here, and I plan on raising my kids here, so I want it to be a good, safe place.”
Other elections, unopposed candidates
Court Clerk Cathy Williams and County Clerk Reba G. Sill are running unopposed for their posts in July and November, and are virtually assured victory in the election.
Sheriff Terry Durborow, a Democrat, will run for re-election against Republican Jeff Wright in the November election.
By Joe Hadsall
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