Commissioners appointed Michelle "Shelly" Sumpter to lead the Muskogee County Treasurer's Office for the remainder of a term that will expire June 30, 2023.
Sumpter, who said she is "excited" and "ready to meet the challenges" ahead, plans to declare her candidacy for the post in April. The office is among others scheduled for the election cycle in 2022.
"Let's do this! I'm very excited and ready to meet the challenges," Sumpter said after she was appointed during the regular meeting of the Muskogee County Board of Commissioners. "I'm ready to go — tax statements are going to keep coming out on time, and everything is going to be like they have been.
Commissioners made the appointment Monday within an hour after one of two finalists they selected on Friday withdrew his name from consideration. They had planned to interview both Sumpter and Kurt Watson.
Watson, a retired tax accountant who now deals in real estate, said he gave his application a second thought during the weekend and decided against his Monday morning interview.
"It wasn't anything in particular," Watson said about his decision to withdraw his name from consideration. "I applied and didn't really talk this over with my wife and family, and I never ran for public office before — I don't know if I would have the energy to do that next year."
Watson said nobody contacted him to try and influence his decision. He said District 3 Commissioner Kenny Payne called to get a sense about how serious he was about applying for the position.
"He asked me if I was interested in the job and asked me to come interview Monday morning," Watson said. "I was not contacted by anybody else — not a soul."
Payne said he made a couple of calls to applicants in an effort to gauge their interest in the job — only Watson expressed interest. Payne said he saw no other applicants he would have invited for an interview had he known Watson would withdraw his name Monday morning.
District 1 Commissioner Ken Doke said he would "rather do anything" than make an interim appointment. He said Sumpter made this appointment easier.
"She has been working with a team that is doing an awesome job," Doke said. "We're super happy with the work they have been doing."
Sumpter joined the treasurer's office when interim Court Clerk Robyn Boswell took office in July 2019. Sumpter said she worked with Boswell at the Muskogee County District Attorney's Office and at a private law firm "years ago — we've known each other a number of years."