Oklahoma bill proposes term limits for elected county officials

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MARSHALL COUNTY, OK - "I think it would be devastating to the county, to all the counties," said Erin Lemons, who has been the Marshall County commissioner for District 2 for two years.

She said right now county officials have no term limits. But if passed a house bill authored by Representative Mike Turner would limit every elected county official to 12 years in office.

"I'm just upset with it because it's taking it out of the voters hands," Lemons. "And I don't think that's right."

If the bill passes not only would it limit county officeholders to three terms, it would impact elections. Starting in November one election would be held for the positions of: county clerk, court clerk, sheriff, assessor, treasurer and three commissioners every four years.

District 31 Representative Jason Murphey heads the committee that passed it.

"It allows the concept that public service should be just that, temporary public service," said Murphey. "And career politicians will no longer have a role in county government."

The bill said non-consecutive years served and years in multiple offices would be combined in the 12 year total.

Ann Hartin has served as Marshall County clerk for 19-years. She said it would limit the officials in their jobs.

"To have the experience and the knowledge and to be able to adequately do the service to the people that it takes to do and to learn their jobs," said Hartin.

But Murphey said term limits make a difference in the quality of legislators elected and could help the people at the local level.

"It's made a remarkable policy change inside of Oklahoma government and that type of policy change should apply to county government as well," said Murphey.