Pittsburg County’s four District 3 commissioner candidates squared off on county roads, a plan for the Southeast Expo Center, and more.
The McAlester News-Capital Forum at Eastern Oklahoma State College’s McAlester Campus gave the public the opportunity to see and hear all four candidates on the same stage, with questions for the evening presented by News-Capital reporters. Capital.
Current District 3 Commissioner Ross Selman faces challenges from District 3 candidates Glen Padgett Sr., Trent Myers and Logan Sanders. Given that all four have filed as Republicans and no other challengers have filed, the election could be decided by the next primary election on June 28.
If none of the candidates obtains more than 50% of the votes in the primary election, the first two voters will advance to the second primary round on August 23.
In their opening statements, the candidates touted their experience as qualifying them for the job.
“I worked for the county for seven and a half years,” Padgett said, saying he saw many ways to save the county’s tax money.
“I think the biggest problem with our roads is drainage,” said Padgett, who argued that drainage is a problem with 60 to 70 percent of county roads.
“If you don’t have drainage on the road, you won’t keep the road,” Padgett said. Fix the roads the first time and you won’t have to go back, he said.
Myers said he had lived in Pittsburg County his entire life. He said he was a firefighter, worked in law enforcement, was director of emergency management “and at one point county commissioner.” He also referred to the Southeast Exposition Center, which Pittsburg County Commissioners recovered from the city. He said the commissioners, with the right promotion, “could turn everything into a dark place.
Sanders, in his opening statement, said he was born, raised and went to school in Pittsburg County. He said he worked for five and a half years on his grandfather’s ranch, worked at the McAlester Army Munitions Factory and eventually started his own construction business, which he says gives him life. experience for the post of district commissioner 3.
Selman noted that he had been the commissioner of District 3 for eight years. “Before that, I was hand for 13 years,” he said. “I worked hard as a laborer and as a commissioner.
“This job is not easy,” Selman said, saying he spent 13 years as a county employee helping with road maintenance. He said he sees what is needed and does his best to provide it. He said his work assisting with the McAlester/Pittsburg County Emergency Management Office was a highlight of his tenure.
“We are now the hub of southeast Oklahoma,” he said, referring to emergency management services.
The four candidates were asked what their number one priority would be if elected.
“My main priority is to fix the roads as they should be,” Padgett said. He argued that the county is “spending hundreds of thousands of dollars that don’t need to be spent.”
“Fix it the first time,” Padget said.
Myers said, “My number one priority is to be more efficient. Noting rising fuel costs and other inflationary factors, he predicted the expenses would be astronomical.
“You’re going to have to manage your people to be effective,” he said. “It’s going to be hard on everyone.”
Sanders agreed with Myers regarding efficiency. “When we build a road, we have to build our base well,” he said. Sanders said running his own construction company he had to make sure he was efficient every day.
Selman said he would continue to represent county residents. He said the funding that has been cut by the state has squeezed the road budget, sometimes making it necessary to go back and make repairs.
Candidates were also asked what the Commissioners’ plan should be for the Southeast Expo Center.
Myers noted that the exhibit center manager has resigned.
“We need to find someone in the promotion business,” Myers said. If the Expo Center doesn’t have an event every week, it will be difficult to sustain it, he said.
Sanders suggested having signs regarding upcoming Expo events in addition to the one currently on the site.
“If we could find another sign or billboard inside McAlester that would help,” he said. Having air conditioning inside the whole building would help, he said. Sanders said he had a booth at the recent Italian Festival, but many people didn’t want to enter the Expo Center because it was too hot. An HVAC upgrade is needed, he said.
Selman said curators are already working on promoting different events and adding HVAC throughout the Expo.
“We had a ready-made plan, but it turned out to be way too high,” he said. This forced the commissioners to go back and reformulate the original plan, but the commissioners are still working towards the CVC.
Padgett said he knew very little about Expo. “If the county is going to have Expo, we have to promote it,” he said. Padgett said there was more square footage on the exhibition center grounds than where the building stood, and suggested the property could be used.
“Use the square footage you have,” Padgett said.
Candidates were asked what county commissioners could do to maximize resources for road construction and maintenance.
Sanders suggested getting more grants and funding.
Selman noted the adoption of a sales tax to be used for county roads. “Around 2016, we came up with a penny sales tax that people graciously embraced,” he said. It is also seeking project grants, Selman noted, and cited the Tannehill Road project as an example.
Padgett said “You have to think outside the box.” He said the county spends a lot of money on weeding that could be saved if the county sprays in the spring like the state does.
Myers maintained that he was working on penny sales before he was adopted, saying he and another person came up with the idea.
The candidates were asked what they would do as county commissioner to ensure the transparency of the office.
Selman said the county is currently transparent. “Any check goes through three different departments,” he said. “Our meetings are all public. If you want to know something, come and ask.”
Padgett said he worked for the county for seven and a half years. He said he would watch everything. Padgett said regarding some courthouse stuff, he’ll have to learn it.
Myers said, “I’m probably the most transparent guy you’ll ever meet. Anyone in the world can call me anytime.”
Sanders said he would use social media to help provide transparency. “I want to have town hall meetings in different neighborhoods, either quarterly or every six months,” he said.
After the forum, the four candidates stayed to hear from candidates from other races in the June 28 primary ballot.
Contact James Beaty at [email protected]