By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Newly elected District 2 County Commissioner Darry Stacy’s first Board of County Commissioners meeting was, well, a bit of a snooze. With the most lively discussion coming over a question on a routine contract for animal pickup, the meeting wasn’t much of a headline maker.
District 3 County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan said that’s fine by him.
“Your story is we’re all getting along,” he said.
While no scandals or political battles commanded headlines, for the new commissioner, it was still a banner day.
“I’m excited to be out at District 2,” said Stacy, who retired from the Norman Police Department in November. “It’s a great group of guys.”
Stacy seconded his first motion, voted his first “aye” of approval and, following the close of the meeting, signed his first purchase orders as a county commissioner. It was a routine start to a job that has become anything but ordinary in today’s time of turbulent politics and economic unrest.
Cleveland County is comprised of nearly 539 square miles. Those miles are divided into three districts, each under the care of a county commissioner. Commissioners serve four-year terms and are elected in staggered years on partisan ballots. In Cleveland County, they earn $6,571 per month, or just under $79,000 annually.
In Cleveland County, as in counties statewide, county commissioners are charged with overseeing the administration of the county’s business, maintaining roads and bridges and maintaining the courthouse and numerous other county buildings.
Despite increasing administration duties, road maintenance still demands a large portion of a commissioner’s time.
“The road districts still are a big part of our jobs,” District 1 County Commissioner Rod Cleveland said. “We assist the municipalities with the rural roads.”
Cleveland is serving as chair of the board this year and, as such, has oversight of the maintenance of the county’s many buildings.
“The goal that I’m working on now that’s taking up my time is looking at our county buildings and making sure we’re growing into the county’s future efficiently,” he said. “Compared to smaller counties, we have more buildings.”
Many of the county’s buildings are 20-plus years old and must be well-maintained to keep them operating efficiently, rather than becoming money pits that would burden taxpayers.
Of the 77 counties in Oklahoma, Cleveland County is the third largest with a population of 255,755, according to 2010 Census Bureau figures. That’s less than half of Oklahoma County’s population of 718,633 or Tulsa County’s 603,403, but Cleveland County outstrips both in growth, showing a strong 22.9 percent population increase over the last decade.
The county seat is Norman, the third largest city in the state with a population of 110,925, according to 2010 Census figures. Oklahoma City is No. 1 with a population of 579,999, and Tulsa has a population of 391,906.
Cleveland County also includes Moore, the seventh largest city in the state, and parts of south Oklahoma City.
As one of the most populous counties, Cleveland County has a great demand for court programs.
“Even though we don’t get in the judges’ business, we still look at those court programs,” Cleveland said.
Commissioners must be knowledgeable in how programs use county taxpayer dollars or county facilities. Commissioners also serve on the County Budget Board along with other elected county officials. County commissioners approve, contingent on recommendations from the district attorney’s office, virtually every contract that the county enters into for every county office.
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