Spencer Hicks is running for the very public post of District 2 Oklahoma County Commissioner after having spent since 2004 working mostly behind the scenes in state government and consulting.
Last week Hicks declared his candidacy for the District 2 County Commissioner seat currently held by incumbent Brian Maughan since 2008.
Maughan has made no official declaration of candidacy for another term yet. The filing period is not until April with the election being in November 2020.
Hicks has extensive experience in the function of state government having served on Governor Brad Henry‘s staff starting in 2004, the year after Henry was first elected Governor.
After Henry’s term limit ended in 2011, Hicks has stayed with Henry as the former Governor formed a consulting firm.
The county commissioners run on staggered election cycles to insure that at least one experienced commissioner is in place at any given time.
In an interview with Free Press, Hicks identified the Oklahoma County Jail, under federal oversight since 2009, as being at the top of his list of concerns for the county.
Nearly since its opening in November 1991, the jail has revealed serious design and construction issues making the operation of the jail a challenge for three county sheriffs to the present.
“First and foremost, we need to find a way to house…people who are either incarcerated or awaiting trial humanely,” said Hicks.
He is also concerned about the people who work there, both the jailers and medical staff who are contracted to care for the inmates.
“It’s a terrible place to work. everything is falling apart,” said Hicks. “I don’t know what the costs would be to do a renovation and get it up to code or whether it would just be cheaper to find someplace else.”
Hicks said that people do not deserve a de facto “death penalty” just for being jailed.
He said that his extensive experience in state government would be a plus for promoting “cooperation” between state agencies and the county.
An example he gave was the construction of the turnpike spur along the east side of the county that will connect the Turner Turnpike with I-40 east of Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City.
Districts 1 and 2 cover most of that area.
District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert told Free Press that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is offering $1.8 million for what commissioner estimate is over $4 million in damage to county roads near the construction right-of-way.
Hicks said it is important for a county commissioner in that type of situation to understand fully how state government works and promote cooperation between the county and entities like the Turnpike Authority.
Oklahoma County basics
The sprawling county covers 720 square miles and counts over 650,000 residents who live in rural, exurban, suburban, and dense urban areas in the core of Oklahoma City, Capitol city for Oklahoma and Oklahoma County seat. (See map below)
Oklahoma County is divided up into only three big administrative districts with each of the three full-time commissioners who receive full-time pay serving in the role of the top day-to-day executive of their respective districts.
The three then regularly meet as the Board of County Commissioners to set policy and conduct county-wide business.
District 2 is the most gerrymandered of the districts. It covers the entire southern border of the county in a u-shape from the western boundary all the way to the eastern boundary and taking in a broad array of communities and cities in the larger metro.
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