4 minute read

Local civic leader Cacky Poarch announced Friday that she will challenge District 3 Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey in 2022, the next time he will have to run again if he still wants the seat.

The precipitating event was Calvey’s insistence over the last two weeks that the county use $40 million in CARES Act funds to shore up the perpetually problematic Oklahoma County Detention Center (Jail). The funds were received from the federal government for community relief from effects of the pandemic.

Commissioner candidate
Cacky Poarch announced her run against Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey in 2022. (provided)

“I am starting my candidacy today because Oklahoma County has been an absolute dumpster fire this week, and Commissioner Calvey’s actions are reprehensible,” said Poarch in a press release that came out Friday morning.

Poarch criticized Calvey for insisting that the money go to the jail and not even considering any other ideas for how it may be better used during this extraordinary time.

And she believes that her leadership training qualifies her for the position.

“I have been trained by Sally’s List, attended Pipeline to Politics hosted by the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition, and the main reason I am pursuing the Leadership MBA at OCU is so that I can be a more principled steward of Oklahoma tax dollars,” said Poarch.

“I will reveal more about my campaign over the coming months. This is a marathon, not a sprint to 2022. Together, we can make Oklahoma County a more transparent and accountable government.”

Jail issue

Calvey has been taking heavy criticism for his idea of transferring most of Oklahoma County’s CARES Act funds to the Jail Trust that now runs the jail instead of the Oklahoma County Sherriff.

Including all the parts of the money transferred in pieces, the amount comes to around $40 million dollars that the Jail Trust will have to spend before December 31.

But, he is also under fire for what some believe to be underhanded ways of pushing the idea through even before the Jail Trust was able to ask for the money.

Calvey tried to quietly pass a resolution to move the money only to be met by protesters who showed up at the meeting at the prompting of District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert who has strongly held that the money should be used to give relief to nonprofits and small businesses in the county.

From then on, at both Jail Trust meetings and the Budget Board meeting protesters arrived to loudly protest what seemed to Calvey’s insistence on moving the money without any real consideration of what other needs people of Oklahoma County Had for the money.

At the Jail Trust meeting protesters who complained that the Jail has been there for decades with the same problems and now the county is eager to take all of the funds that are so desperately needed during the economic downturn of the pandemic.

Last straw?

Wednesday, Calvey, who chairs the Board of County Commissioners, started the meeting at 9:00 sharp with only Commissioner Brian Maughan present. Blumert was not there but her chief of staff sat in until she got there within the first minute.

But, Calvey, the current chair, dispensed with the flag salute, prayer, and the first 20 items on the agenda to bring to a quick vote the transfer of $34 million to the jail.

Jail Trust
Two members of the three-commissioner panel that makes up the Oklahoma County board of County Commissioners voted to transfer $34 million to the Jail Trust for the Oklahoma County Jail. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

He and Maughan passed the motion without allowing public comment. They had already voted in an earlier meeting to transfer smaller amounts for different purposes at the jail which added up to roughly $40 million.

Concerned citizens who came out of interest in the issue and protesters were left stunned by what they saw as a bad-faith parliamentary stunt by Calvey showing little concern for the opinions of citizens of the County.

Calvey has consistently resisted taking public comments during the time of virtual meetings claiming that there wasn’t any good way to do that without allowing people from around the world to call in.

In fact, the City of Oklahoma City has been able to manage well the heavy loads of commenters for their virtual City Council meetings through several controversies such as the mask ordinance.


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