Comanche County, Oklahoma

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County to get new assessor; commissioner incumbents win

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The voters decided to turn out the incumbent Comanche County assessor and gave nods of confidence to the incumbent Eastern and Western district county commissioners in Tuesday’s Republican primary elections.   

Challenger Grant Edwards, defeated incumbent assessor Richard Strickland 3,265 votes to 1,932 votes.   

Edwards will face Democrat Gary Yackeyonny, Cache, in the Nov. 4 general election.   

“I’m still kind of in shock,” said Edwards.   

He said Tuesday night that he was overwhelmed with the level of support he had received and was looking forward to the general election.    

He praised Yackeyonny as a “great guy” and said he has actually worked with him professionally.

 

Strickland, who will remain in office until the end of the year, congratulated Edwards on his victory and said he is welcome at the assessor’s office at any time to learn more about operations.   

Strickland also took the opportunity to praise his staff at the assessor’s office. He described the workers as responsible and well-trained.  

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Voters will decide on sales tax

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Voters will decide Tuesday whether to approve a 3/8-cent county sales tax that combines two existing 1/8-cent sales taxes with a new 1/8-cent sales tax to pay for the rising cost of operating the Comanche County Detention Center.   

Gail Turner, chairman of the Comanche County commissioners, said the new combined tax is a necessity that will benefit everyone.   

The new 1/8-cent sales tax that will fund the jail along with the renewal of the existing 1/8- cent sales tax the jail already receives is a result of more crime and rising costs for food, fuel and other necessities, Turner said.   

He said the county is required by state law to operate a jail, and increasing crime in Lawton and the county as a whole has led to more inmates in the county jail. More local inmates in the jail means there are fewer beds the county can rent to the state and the federal governments to help pay for the operation of the jail.   

While those rental revenues have declined in recent years, the daily expenses of housing and feeding inmates have risen, Turner said.   He said the current 1/8-cent tax is not enough to cover the cost of operating the jail, even though he said the county has been frugal with taxpayers’ money.   

Turner said the daily cost per inmate at the detention center is $32.50, which is significantly lower than many other jails in Oklahoma. He said the Grady County and Oklahoma County jails pay about $41 per inmate daily.   

As for the rest of the combined 1/8-cent sales tax, he said it will benefit important county agencies, including the Comanche County Industrial Development Authority, the sheriff’s department, the fairgrounds and the volunteer fire departments; all of which, except for the development authority, will receive a larger cut of the combined tax than they receive of the current sales tax.   

Turner also said the county is proud of its stewardship of tax money. The money in the combined tax is strictly earmarked for its specified purposes and cannot be spent any other way, he added.   

The combined sales tax would help contribute to the economic well-being of Comanche County, Turner said.  

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