MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 5, 2013

County officials take the oath of office

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Friends, family members, political supporters and dignitaries packed a Muskogee County courtroom Friday as four county officers took the oath of office.

Three of the four — Sheriff Charles Pearson, County Clerk Paula Sexton and District 2 Commissioner Stephen Wright —  were re-elected to positions they held. The fourth, Dianna Cope, was elected to her first full term as county clerk.  Commissioners appointed Cope as county clerk in 2011 to complete the unexpired term of her predecessor, Karen Anderson.

County officers — all except the treasurer — typically are sworn in on the first business day of the new year after the general election. Officials, however, delayed the ceremony to secure the attendance of their supporters.

Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore said because all four are present office holders, they were considered “holdovers” and authorized to continue to serve in their official capacities until they were sworn in Friday.

District 1 Commissioner Gene Wallace, outgoing chairman of the Muskogee County Board of Commissioners, presided over the ceremony. During his presentation, Wallace extolled the virtues of public service at the county level.

“As we think and reflect back on the historic footsteps of this country, there has been a tremendous amount of public good dispensed from these offices,” Wallace said, asserting county government is the oldest form of representative government in the nation. “It is the most responsive, accountable form of government we know, with local people addressing local problems.”

After being sworn in, all four officers introduced friends and family members, and thanked supporters who helped with their campaigns. Sexton, who was elected during a special election in 2002 to fill the unexpired term of her predecessor, was elected during the Democratic primary in June to her third full term.

Pearson was re-elected in November to his fourth term in office. Wright won the Democratic runoff election in August, earning a second term in office. Wright will serve this year as chairman of the Muskogee County Board of Commissioners.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.