MCCURTAIN COUNTY, Okla. (KTAL/KMSS) – The resignation of Mark Jennings during a scandal alleging he participated in a conversation about killing two reporters and hanging Black people has left an opening on the McCurtain County Board of Commissioners. Now Gov. Kevin Stitt has ordered a special election to fill the District 2 Commissioner seat.
Jennings was one of four officials accused of participating in the shocking conversations after a Board of Commissioners meeting in March. A producer with the McCurtain Gazette-News recorded the conversation. The release of the recordings caused public outrage, sparking protests and Gov. Stitt’s calling for the resignation of the officials.
“I am both appalled and disheartened to hear of the horrid comments made by officials in McCurtain County,” said Stitt. “There is simply no place for such hateful rhetoric in the state of Oklahoma, especially by those that serve to represent the community through their respective office.”
Jennings resigned on Wednesday “effective immediately.” Despite calls for their resignation, investigator Alicia Manning, Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix, and Sheriff Kevin Clardy have yet to indicate that they plan to step down from their positions. A McCurtain County Sheriff’s Facebook page post claims that the recordings were altered and recorded illegally.
The District 2 Commissioner is responsible for the following:
- Maintenance and construction of county roads and bridges
- Attending regular board meetings where county business is transacted
- Approving and overseeing the county budget
- Functioning as the business manager of the county
- Relying on the Office of the State Auditor and Inspector for oversight and guidance
Those interested in running can file at the McCurtain County Election Board’s Office from May 1-3. The Dist. 2 Commissioner’s Office says the special primary election will take place June 13. If unnecessary, a general election will take place Sept. 12.