Delaware County candidates for District # 1 county commissioner attended a public forum hosted by The Grove Sun Tuesday evening at the Grove Community Center.
Approximately 30 citizens attended the forum to voice their opinions and ask questions.
Candidates, including David Poindexter, Doug Smith, Danny Gandy and Jerry Cole, discussed their ideas on the Delaware County Jail overcrowding issue, the state of the county’s finances, county roads, the purity of the water in Grand Lake, and how to get the north and the south end of the county to be more unified.
Grove City Council member Larry Parham, who has been a vocal opponent of the proposed jail tax asked candidates whether they approved of the proposed .5 cent sales tax that is currently on the table.
All four candidates said they were opposed to the sales tax increase.
Gandy said there wasn’t a single solution to the question of how to alleviate the overcrowding problem at the jail, but that it would take a variety of solutions.
The other candidates concurred.
Cole said the “SMART” program offered some solutions.
The “SMART” group is a coalition of citizens that was recently formed in Delaware County. They are pushing to implement programs that have worked in other states to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated.
Oklahoma has one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States.
Poindexter also said he supported the SMART program and suggested that non-violent criminals should do roadwork and community service as an alternative to jail time.
Smith said he thought it would help to appoint someone to the Trust Authority who had done some research on alternatives.
“We need some new blood on that committee,” he said.
All the candidates agreed that raising taxes was not an option, even in the face of the current economic hardships the county faces.
They all spoke about cutting back and living within the county’s means.
Poindexter noted that some of the equipment the county has is unnecessary and could be sold.
Gandy said the county should be going after more federal and state grants.
Dr. Larry Stout asked the commissioners what could be done about mending the rift between the north and south ends of Delaware County.
Cole said having meetings in different parts of the county so that they are more accessible to members of the public instead of simply at the courthouse in Jay might help.
Smith said he thought it was a matter of educating people about the needs of the whole county.