Brian Maughan has been serving as the county commissioner for Oklahoma County’s District 2 since 2008. During the recent elections, he defeated newcomer Democratic candidate Spencer Hicks with over 57% of the vote.
During his time in office, Maughan has focused his efforts on his SHINE program—a countywide beautification and cleanup program—and other infrastructure projects such as the Kickapoo Turnpike and the Triple X Road Project both on the east side of the county.
However, this year was particularly challenging for the Republican incumbent as he and many public officials up for election in Oklahoma County have received scrutiny over the allocation of CARES Act funds to the county jail.
Free Press has reported on nearly every board of county commissioners and jail trust meeting since the controversy began to unfold. Commissioner Maughan spoke to us over the phone about the controversy and his election victory.
Victory During Protests
“[Winning this election] is particularly gratifying because of the controversy surrounding county government this year and I feel like the people validated our leadership and renewed my contract,” Maughan said.
He mentioned that while campaigning he found that many of his constituents were concerned about protestors at the board of county commissioners and jail trust meetings.
“[Constituents brought up] how disturbed they were at these hateful protesters and the lack of decorum they saw at these outbursts at county meetings,” he explained.
Protestors and Kevin Calvey
Maughn has been criticized often by protestors for being an enabler for Commissioner Kevin Calvey—a county commissioner who has repeatedly made headlines trying to allot the majority of CARES Act funds to the county jail.
“[Kevin Calvey and I] both favor fixing the jail, and if there is some way to do that with these covid dollars, then we certainly felt obliged to do that,” the county commissioner said.
In under a minute, Calvey called a vote on the motion to send over $30 million in CARES Act funds to the jail trust, with Maughan’s vote of approval, and all while Commissioner Carrie Blumert was not present at a board of county commissioners meeting.
“In terms of what [Calvey and I] disagree on, it’s maybe on how we get to the same goal,” he said.
Maughan explained that he put forward a motion to try to have every proposal regarding the spending CARES Act funds reviewed by the District Attorney before the proposals were placed on the agenda.
He went on to say that he and Oklahoma County Court Clerk Rick Warren were the only two on the Budget Board who favored his idea.
This is noteworthy because there were meetings in which protestors were outraged that Calvey was considering spending CARES Act funds on issues not related to the pandemic.
“And if we implement that rule, I think a lot of the confusion [about] ‘can we or can we not spend the [CARES Act] dollars in a particular way’ would have been settled before we had the debate,” said Maughan.
Despite the jail trust being the center of controversy in county government, it was actually created with the intention of mitigating corruption and poor management.
In 2017, an audit of the county sheriff’s office found that there were hundreds of thousands of dollars missing, which had all three county commissioners agreeing that there needed to be a jail trust.
“I think we have been [transparent], which is what I think ultimately the voters upheld. I’ve championed the jail trust for years,” Maughan said when asked how he plans to be a voice for transparency in county government.
“That allows for a conversation in a public review of the daily activities in the jail trust, which previous to that, never existed in any real layman’s format for sure.”
Most of the CARES Act funds have now been transferred back to the Board of County Commissioners and they will have until December 30 to decide where they can legally allocate the funds.
Maughan said that most of the CARES Act funds will be returned to the Board of County Commissioners by December 9 and given to business relief funds.
He mentioned that he spoke with the Oklahoma City Housing Authority and said that they will also be returning the remaining funds they have if they do not spend it all by the deadline.
“If we wind up giving any of [the CARES Act funds] back to the federal treasury it certainly won’t be for lack of exploring every legal option to expend it here locally,” Maughan said.
Going forward, Maughan wants to fix a key bridge on Triple X Road that fell in the North Canadian River in 2013. The bridge will have to be built by August 2022 to be in compliance with the FEMA grant that Oklahoma County received.
Triple X Road is a key north/south local conduit that ties together Choctaw, Harrah, Jones, and Luther on the east side of the county.
He said picking up debris and tree limbs from the ice storm during the elections is the most pressing issue at the moment.
We asked Maughan if he would plan to run again in 2024 or pursue another career and he said that things were up in the air.
“I don’t know what the future holds, I’m just looking at these next four years,” Maughan concluded.
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