Brazee decides to run for District 1 commissioner

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska auto repair shop owner John Brazee said last week he has decided to run for the District 1 seat on the Osage County Board of County Commissioners.

Brazee, 52, formerly served as the Ward 4 member of the Pawhuska City Council. He decided not to seek re-election last year, as a result of a controversy about whether his residence was within city limits. Brazee explained at the time that he felt he could prevail in the dispute, but said he didn't have the money to fight it.

The late Jerry Howerton, who served as District 1 commissioner, was Brazee's brother-in-law. Howerton was defeated in the last District 1 commissioner election by Randall Jones, the current commissioner.

Brazee said, however, that his family relationship to Howerton had nothing to do with his interest in running for commissioner.

"Nothing to do with it at all," Brazee said. "I actually told Jerry that I would probably run against him sometime."

Brazee's decision to run for the District 1 commissioner job makes him the second person to declare an interest in the position in the past couple of weeks, even though the election will not be until next year.

Dr. Everett Piper, former president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, on Sept. 20 said during a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners that he intends to be a candidate in District 1.

Brazee said he intends to run as a Republican. Piper also intends to run as a Republican. Jones is a Republican.

Brazee said Osage County residents have been encouraging him to be a candidate.

"They have called me, texted me, stopped by," Brazee said. "Probably for about three months now."

Brazee said he will have an open-door policy as a candidate and, if elected, as a commissioner. He said that he welcomes suggestions from his fellow citizens.

Brazee said he is interested in seeing Osage County maximize its potential for tourism income, and thinks the county could be doing more to utilize the fairgrounds.

"We're not utilizing the fairgrounds as much as I think we ought to," he said. Brazee also advocated improving roads near tourist attractions, to enhance the experience of visitors to Osage County.

"We have to do something to make it easier to travel," Brazee said. "There has got to be something we can do."

He specifically mentioned wanting to improve the condition of roads leading to attractions such as the Nature Conservancy's Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and The Lodge on Drummond Ranch.

"I just want to concentrate on everywhere that people go," Brazee said. He noted that the county's portion of the road leading from Highway 60 to Bluestem Lake will "just about knock your teeth out."

With regard to the Osage County Fairgrounds, Brazee also mentioned that he desires to see more promotion of the fairgrounds take place.

"I would like to have somebody that would help promote the fairgrounds," Brazee said; and he would like to develop a good working relationship with the county tourism director.

Other types of issues that Brazee said he would like to address include amicable resolution of questions about property rights of way; the need for sufficient facilities for providers of services for troubled youth; and the possibility of finding funds to provide transportation home for persons who find themselves marooned in Pawhuska because of court hearings.