By Andy Rieger
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Embattled Cleveland County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election to the District 3 post he has had for the past eight years.
“I am announcing today that I will not be running for re-election as county commissioner in Cleveland County. I have been very grateful for the opportunity to serve the citizens of Cleveland County,” Sullivan said in a statement to The Transcript. “Recent events have caused friends and neighbors to ask if I will be running for re-election. Although I disagree with the characterizations of my actions, it is time to move on.”
Sullivan, 61, of Noble, made the announcement in a statement to The Transcript Wednesday morning. Earlier this week, he said he planned to file for a third term on April 9. He was first elected in 2006, defeating longtime commissioner Leroy Krohmer.
He was the subject of a recent Oklahoma multi-county grand jury investigation into his acceptance of $19,900 in tree, shrub and fence damages from the county’s widening of Etowah Road in Noble, where he resides.
The grand jury, in a report issued this past week, accused — but did not indict — Sullivan of a misdemeanor charge of improperly accepting the $19,900 damage payment.
Sullivan and at least one other county commissioner appeared before the panel in Oklahoma City. The panel said the matter was brought to the grand jury too late for prosecution because the statutes of limitations had expired.
Earlier this week, fellow Republican county commissioners Darry Stacy, District 2, and Rod Cleveland, District 1, stripped Sullivan of his board of commissioners chairmanship. Cleveland called on Sullivan to repay the money, and Stacy called on him to resign the office or face removal proceedings.
Sullivan, in his statement Wednesday, said he did not accept the maximum amount offered for his property and voluntarily donated land for the project.
“I really did try to do the right thing,” he said.
“This has been a trying time for me and my family. I love public service and this county, but hate the politics that comes with it,” he said. “Serving as your county commissioner has been one of the highest honors in my life. I wish nothing but the best for this great county and for my successor as county commissioner.”
At least two Republican candidates are expected to file for the post. They include Darryl Covey, of Lexington, and state Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. Former state Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, has announced plans to file for the seat.
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