Jones says commissioner is his ‘dream job’

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

District 1 County Commissioner Randall Jones on the evening of March 15 told a group of Republican voters from the Pawhuska area that serving as a commissioner was always his career goal.

”This is my dream job. I have wanted this job my whole life,” Jones said during a voter information address he gave. He is in his 39th month as a member of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners, and he said that he desires the job “to help people, to fix problems.”

The county has endured two natural disasters and a pandemic during his term of office, Jones said.

Jones was the featured speaker March 15, but not the only prospective candidate for the 2022 Republican nomination for District 1 Commissioner to make remarks that evening.

Former Pawhuska City Councilor John Brazee declined an offer to make extended remarks to the Republican group, but he did briefly clarify that his likely candidacy has nothing to do with whether Jones is doing a good job or not.

“I’m not saying he’s doing a bad job, and I ain’t saying he’s doing a good job,” Brazee said, adding that he had decided some years ago that he wanted to run for commissioner, regardless of the identity of his opponent.

“Nothing personal, me running against you,” Brazee said to Jones.

Jones remarked that he and Brazee had always known one another, and he said Brazee would probably make a better public speaker than he did.

Two other prospective candidates for District 1 County Commissioner in Osage County are Clay Hughs and Dr. Everett Piper.

Piper and Hughs were absent from the March 15 Republican meeting.

Clay Hughs is a truck driver whose father worked in law enforcement. The late Harold Wayne Hughs Jr. passed away in 2017. He had worked as an investigator for the Osage County Sheriff’s Office and as a municipal police chief. Clay Hughs has said he wants to emulate his father’s commitment to public service.

Everett Piper is a retired university president with a doctorate in education who recently told an audience that he has blue-collar roots — his father was a truck driver. Piper said his guiding principles are a belief in local political control and a desire for the national government to leave him alone, rather than trying to mandate how he must behave.

Jones said he opposed county government imposing mandates on people to fight COVID-19.

”I was not comfortable putting mandates on people,” he said. “I do not like them.”

He added that he opposes all proposals for new taxes.

”I’m against new taxes for any reason,” Jones said. District 1 is the most rural of Osage County’s three commissioner districts, accounting for more than 60 percent of the county’s land area.

Jones said his operating approach as a commissioner has been to do more work with less money. He also said that he regularly consults with the Osage County District Attorney and other officials to make sure that he acts in a manner consistent with state law. He complimented his fellow commissioners — Steve Talburt, a Republican, and Darren McKinney, a Democrat — as “level-headed” and good to work with.

Jones pointed out that the county’s courthouse annex/administration building project will be paid for with Use Tax revenue, not by levying new taxes on the citizens.

Jones said he wants to serve one more term.

All four potential candidates for the District 1 Commissioner seat have said they intend to run as Republicans. If no Democratic Party candidate, Libertarian Party candidate or Independent candidate emerges, the seat will automatically be filled by the Republican nominee. The party primaries will be June 28.

March 31 is the deadline to change one’s party affiliation for voting purposes. The Oklahoma Republican Party holds closed primaries, which means anyone who wants to vote in a Republican primary — such as the District 1 Commissioner primary — must be registered as a Republican by March 31.

The official candidate filing period for those seeking election to county offices is April 13-15.

Other speakers at the March 15 Republican meeting included County Treasurer Sally Hulse and County Assessor Ed Quinton Jr.

Hulse said she will run for another term. Quinton also plans to seek re-election.

Quinton said he wants the determination of property values for tax purposes to be handled as fairly as possible. He said that his office is committed to correcting errors where they have been made.

Quinton also voiced frustration with instances in which tax dollars are spent unwisely.

In a follow-up conversation with the Journal-Capital, Quinton clarified that he strives to serve all the people of Osage County fairly as their assessor, not just fellow Republicans.