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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Cathy Cummings will run against incumbent Kevin Calvey for the Oklahoma County District 3 Commissioner seat. The vote will be in November 2022. Calvey’s term doesn’t end until January 2, 2023.

The north Oklahoma City restauranteur believes that Oklahoma County government should be run in a way that will bring back “normalcy” and “reasonable decisions.”

Cathy Cummings prepares for the evening meal in June 2021 at Vito’s Ristorante, her restaurant in North Oklahoma City. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Calvey has become a political lightning rod as a county commissioner, not the usual thing for a position that deals with the normally boring but essential business of running a county such as maintaining roads and developing budgets.

Why is Cummings running? “Every aspect [of county government] has been an absolute drama fest,” she told Free Press late Tuesday. “Everything is a power struggle. It’s his way or the highway.”

“And so, I just want to bring back some normalcy and some reasonable decisions and run the county the way it’s supposed to: for the people. That’s what it was meant for,” she said.

“And you know, this job shouldn’t be that difficult and filled with that much drama,” Cummings said. “It should be down to business, pragmatic solutions. Let’s run this county the way it should be.”

Areas of concern

Roads and bridges are where Cummings wants to focus first if elected. She talked about a recent drive on County Line Road, the boundary between Oklahoma and Canadian Counties around where N.W. 164th Street intersects.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “And, you know, I have to tell you, when I was a single mom – and this was many, many years ago – the one thing I couldn’t afford were repairs to my car because of running into potholes.”

Cummings also said that the situation with the poor conditions in the Jail needs clear engagement with the public. She believes that the public ought to be allowed to vote on what to do with the Jail next, whether to tear it down and start over or do extensive repairs.

The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Committee, an idea group for the Jail Trust, is studying the possibility of extensive repairs and additions to the current building.

Experience in city government

Cummings cited her time in The City of The Village City Council as experience that qualifies her for county commissioner.

She has been a councilor, then Vice-Mayor, and Mayor of The Village. In that role, she says that she has had to engage the neighboring City of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County government in negotiating MOUs and other agreements.

“I think the most important thing is to listen to what the people want, and what they need and try and give it to them,” Cummings said. “You know, I think people are struggling right now, especially after the pandemic.”

Not the first

Cummings isn’t the first to announce a challenge to Calvey, though.

Local arts supporter Cacky Poarch originally announced she was running against him in 2020. It was just his second year on the job and came after Board of County Commissioner meetings and the newly-formed Jail Trust meetings (where Calvey was a member) became loud, contentious events.

Some were outraged at what seemed to be underhanded dealing in county government when it came to issues with the Oklahoma County Jail, ICE holds on prisoners, and the formation of the Jail Trust.

Since then, Poarch has decided to not run for the position but support Cummings, instead.

“I am thrilled that Oklahoma County will have real options to replace the self-serving incumbent of District 3,” Poarch said. “Cathy Cummings has been an amazing asset to The Village and truly cares about the citizens of Oklahoma County.”

She also praised Jay Bridwell who has also announced his intent to run for the District 3 seat. Watch this space for coverage of his ideas later.

Calvey – formidable politician

Some thought that Calvey had gone too far with intrigues and procedural sleight-of-hand to see that his far-right-wing ideology was expressed even in county government.

Yet, his popularity continues among some segments in the county who have the same ideological views, especially pro-Trump supporters and people who believe that their Second Amendment rights are in danger.

By the end of 2020, his supporters were coming to the meetings in numbers rumored to be ready to physically confront the protestors who had been disruptive in the meetings since May of that year.

But, Sheriff’s deputies and the dialing down of rhetoric on all sides averted any such confrontation on a large scale even though a few situations came close.

Much of that support comes built-in from his years in the Oklahoma Legislature representing House District 82 which is located within his current county District 3. He served from 1998 to 2004 and then from 2015 to 2019 in the House of Representatives when he hit the cumulative term limit.

Calvey has far more than just two years of building support among his constituents. The political capital he has built campaigning for his House seat in prior years is a part of the political calculus among voters in District 3.

Last Updated July 8, 2021, 11:57 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor