McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 30, 2013

County clerk resignation

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

WASHINGTON — Pittsburg County commissioners went into a closed door executive session Monday to discuss the appointment of an interim Pittsburg County clerk. Current Pittsburg County Clerk Janice Barker has handed in her resignation. She said she plans to retire from the office, effective Thursday, “Upon my physician’s advice.”

“I’ve worked here for 20 years,” Barker told the News-Capital after the meeting. “I’ve enjoyed serving with everyone.” Barker said she would have preferred to keep working, but is retiring for health reasons. “This was a fantastic job,” she said. “I loved my job.” Barker won a four-year term in office last year when no filed against her for the county clerk’s seat, which was up for election.

“That’s why this is so hard,” she said. Barker started in the county clerk’s office in the land recordings section, eventually winning promotion to second deputy and then to first deputy under then-County Clerk Debbie Lenox Burch.

When Burch retired in the middle of her term, Barker won the 2010 election to name Burch’s successor. An agenda item for the commissioners’ Monday stated the item’s purpose was “to discuss the appointment of an interim county clerk due to the retirement of Janice Barker ...” District 3 Commissioner/Commission Chairman Ronnie Young, District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith and District 1 Commissioner Gene Rogers met for about a half-hour behind closed doors with District 18 Assistant District Attorney Chuck Sullivan during the Monday meeting.

Sullivan has been serving as the commissioners’ adviser from District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward’s office. The commissioners took no action or vote on the matter when the meeting resumed, since the agenda did not call for any action to be taken at that time.

All three commissioners spoke with the News-Capital following the meeting about what they figured they would do, however. The commissioners said they will likely appoint someone to serve as interim county clerk, until the next scheduled county election, which is in 2014.

Smith said the commissioners haven’t yet determined exactly when they will make that appointment. “We have not considered a date,” he said. The appointment will have to be placed on a meeting agenda and be voted on by the county commissioners before it can take effect. Asked who will run the office after Barker’s retirement becomes effective Thursday, the commissioners said they will let county clerk employees Hope Trammell and Cindy Young run the office until they appoint someone to the interim county clerk’s post.

“They’re both first deputies,” Rogers said. Trammell is chief deputy of the county clerk’s office, while Cindy Young is payroll deputy, according to Barker. The election for a new county clerk will be considered a special election if it is placed on the ballot in 2014 as planned.

Although it will be a special election, the commissioners plan to place it on the ballot along with other county and state offices which will be up for election in two years. Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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