Osage Com. Everett Piper One & Done

In a surprise to many, Osage County Commissioner Everett Piper has resigned his District 1 seat on the County Board of Commissioners effective “on or before March 31, 2024.”

Piper assumed office on January 3, 2023, and his term ends on January 4, 2027.

In an exclusive interview with this writer, Piper said, “I made it very clear from the very beginning that I was not seeking the position for a career or for any other reason than to correct some things that needed to be corrected in terms of leadership, budget and deferred maintenance care and organization of the [County] fairgrounds and also to bring a spirit of congeniality and respect into the office where people were treated well, both staff and peers as well as constituents.

Osage County Commissioner Everett Piper (Photo: Facebook)

Asked if he had given any indication at all during his campaign for the position that he would serve only one year, Piper said, “I gave every indication that I would not run again. I didn’t know how long I would serve. No, I would not have told somebody one year, two years, three years, or four years, that wasn’t the point.”

While acknowledging he knew the term for the office was four years, Piper repeated, “Yes, but that was not the point” without detailing what the point was from his perspective.

Piper said, “I made it clear that that I would not run again. I have also considered that a good leader is always looking for opportunities to build up and encourage the next phase of leadership and hand the baton to someone else who deserves the opportunity to do the work.”

During the interview with this writer February 9, Piper did not mention his recommendation for a successor, but his statement to the Pawhuska Journal-Capital published February 12 primarily focused on an endorsement of Anthony Hudson, currently Piper’s First Deputy and Supervisor of Road Maintenance.

“Anthony is a good man,” Piper said. “He has integrity. He’s honest. He’s humble. He treats people well. He knows the job. His team loves and respects him. Anthony Hudson should have been this district’s commissioner all along.”

Piper said that Hudson’s leadership had been “key” to his own successes in office. Piper said he believes that he has accomplished much of what the residents of District 1 elected him to do, the Journal-Capital reported.

Author Everett Piper here with Gov. Mike Huckabee (Photo: Facebook)

Piper told this writer he had accomplished his priority goals.

“We saved the county $3 million because we stopped the excess spending on the courthouse annex. That project was way out of scope. The plans were $3 million over budget. We corrected that and got a guaranteed maximum price on that project that will be on or below budget.

“We corrected the fairgrounds and brought in a new staff both to schedule and organize the events. We have addressed the deferred maintenance issues that were left unattended for years. The bathrooms were terrible with urinals [covered by] plastic bags because they had not been repaired. Holes in the drywall. The kitchen was filthy and almost unusable. The showers were broken. All this was found in the indoor arena and we have corrected all of that. We put the deferred maintenance into those buildings and fixed the fairgrounds. [It] is clean and functional now.

“So, we fixed the annex and saved the county $3 million. We fixed the fairgrounds situation. We immediately addressed the roads budget by dedicating necessary amounts of dollars and staff and personnel back to the roads so people have material and service on the roads throughout the district. We have accomplished some things.

“I think foremost, we broke the spirit of gossip and political vendetta by just treating people well,” Piper added.

Piper’s focus on “treating people well” may be disputed by county staff.

Trini Haddon, Deputy County Clerk addressed the Board with a dispute over access by women workers to a break-room and bathroom according to the minutes of the Board of County Commissioners January 29 meeting. Specifically, Haddon represented the women with “concerns regarding when there are over 100 jurors in the Courthouse and many of the older women… have a hard time making it from the second or third floor to the [first floor] bathroom only to find a 10-minute line.”

When asked about the issue, Piper refused comment saying, “you will have to talk with them.” However, at the next meeting, Piper voted against the courthouse staff’s request.

Osage County Courthouse

Further on a planning and development issue, admittedly in District 2, Piper voted against the wishes of 200 neighbors of a development that plans: 14 homes, two roads, and a storm-water detention pond on 10 acres. Neighbors note typical residential property in the area sits on one to three acres each. The development was approved by all three Osage County Commissioners.

Osage County Planning and Zoning Director Jake Bruno confirmed to this writer that the development is moving forward and dismissed the citizen petition in part saying, “some of those who signed that petition live seven or eight miles away.” The reader should know, Osage County is the largest County in America covering 2,304 miles.

When asked who would manage his duties in the interim from his effective resignation until the swearing-in of a replacement, Piper said, “I strategically thought this though. Someone was going to replace me because I am not running again. That is a given. I have made that clear even while campaigning for the office. If we want to keep moving the ball forward in a positive way rather than fumble the ball and go back to lose yardage, what is the best strategy? To set the election now and allow a lot of voters to come to the polls during a presidential election season to keep moving the ball forward hopefully for the county commissioner role or to wait a couple of years and do it then when the political season is different with less energy and enthusiasm.

“I just think it is better now when people recognize the changes we have made and recognize the positive movement and yardage on the field and get people to the polls to vote accordingly while that information is still fresh,” Piper added.

In the Journal-Capital story, Piper said he experienced significant frustration saying, “Oklahoma law prohibits me from speaking, strategizing, and planning with the other two commissioners outside of a public meeting” a law established to ensure transparency in the conduct of public business.

Piper with Sen. James Lankford and Osage County leaders (Photo: Facebook)

That story further notes, “[Piper] said that he desired not to be paid a salary, and that he wanted from the beginning of his term of office to have his salary money reallocated into the District 1 budget. The County Clerk and the District Attorney both told him that the change would be contrary to state law and could not be made, Piper said. He clarified that he did not blame either the D.A. or the Clerk for giving that advice.”

“Because of these two issues, I am convinced that I might be more valuable to the county as a private citizen than a paid employee,” Piper said.

Most Oklahomans consider County Commissioners elected officials rather than “paid employees.”

Piper told this writer, “I have been in communication with the governor’s office over the last few months, telling them of my intention to set a strategy that I thought would be best for the citizens so that they could vote for my successor during a heavy election year rather than one that was not.”

READER NOTICE: This story was first published on Straight Up on Substack an email subscription (free and paid) based site. With Tulsa Today, the platforms seek additional writers local to Pawhuska. While editors are available to help in the development and production of news from Osage County, local writers are critical. We seek those with available time and passion for policy and people. We hope to find those who love God and Country with discernment and independence from institutional perspectives so that critical analysis may be offered on programs and policies of importance to citizens.

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