At the end of a long, long week for American democracy, votes in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada solidified around former Vice President Joe Biden as the likely 46th President of the United States. But Oklahoma County got left behind.
With Trump and his ilk overperforming and the blue-purple insurgency of 2018 falling flat, what was once a blue island in a blood-red sea of intolerant, autocracy-curious rural voters sank beneath the surface.
And as Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners’ District 2 commissioner Brian Maughan won 57 percent of the vote to retain his place on the board, he lived another day to play the doe-eyed toady to District 3 Trumpist Kevin Calvey.
by George Lang, opinion writer for Free Press
Calvey wasted no time in making a boarding house reach across law, procedure and decency.
On Wednesday, Calvey asked his musical instrument of obstruction, newly reelected county clerk David Hooten, to cancel a budget meeting called by District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert and County Treasurer Butch Freeman. This was a crucial meeting to discuss allocation of the $20 million in remaining Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, which were returned to the county after $34 million was handed to the Jail Trust, itself a contentious move that flew in the face of CARES Act provisions.
Now, Calvey, Maughan and Blumert have until Dec. 31 to find a use for those funds — otherwise, it all goes back to the federal government. When Calvey requested cancelation of the budget meeting, he effectively started racing both the clock and the calendar toward sending that check back to the feds. This is what Calvey wants.
Even if he did not look like a guy with a future in armed standoffs, Calvey has shown throughout the CARES process a desire to subvert federal guidelines and refuse government intervention on behalf of Oklahoma County’s citizens. It is Oklahoma County’s money, and Calvey is imposing his narrow views on government and his demonstrated desire to make certain inalienable rights totally alienable under his watch.
Like many of my fellow county residents, I do not live on a Branch Davidian compound of the mind. We want to use that money to improve health care during this pandemic, rebuild businesses that were kneecapped by the lack of direct and decisive policy action on COVID-19 and help people get back to work. Calvey wants to send that money back to the feds. He does not want to help us.
The sick and sad reality, though, is Oklahoma County chose this situation. A principled and thoughtful candidate with experience in government ran for District 2 county commissioner against Brian Maughan, but instead of choosing Spencer Hicks, a community leader with a vision for this county’s future, the majority of the county’s residents chose Calvey’s rubber stamp.
And just imagine if Hooten were sent packing and Christina Chickorske had gotten the electoral nod to become county clerk. Then, Calvey would not be enabled in future unlawful meeting cancelations, and Hooten could focus on his Pat Boone musical collaborations and Jazz Kitchen Meat Sauce.
Certainly, there were many disappointments in Oklahoma County, but none more abysmal than State Senator Stephanie Bice’s defeat of U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn in Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District.
Horn is a centrist who is a strong advocate on health care issues, education, women’s issues and just about everything Oklahomans do or should care about. Instead of choosing a centrist voice who could have real power in the House majority, the majority of voters went with a candidate who, in her acceptance speech, talked about how glad she was that Oklahoma was 100% “red” and that she would fight Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Regardless of party, Oklahoma’s Fifth should have better representation than a dead-ender running against progress whose biggest promise was to “stand with President Trump.” What good does that do anyone now?
With Horn’s defeat and Oklahoma County’s progressive candidates denied wins, this county now must look to 2022 and how it can field a strong challenger to Oklahoma’s most feckless governor and rejoin the right side of history in Congress. If a strong and immediate response is not undertaken quickly, the red rot that has infested this county and this state will grow unabated.
Now is the time to get busy. Otherwise, it could be another generation or so before progressive ideas have a chance to take root in central Oklahoma.
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